Obama Signs Budget Deal And Defence Bill
President Barack Obama has signed a bipartisan budget bill and a defence bill, marking a modest end to a challenging year for the White House and Congress.
The president put his signature on both hard-fought bills while on holiday with his family in Hawaii.
The bill signing marks one of Mr Obama's last official acts in a year beset by a partial government shutdown, a near-default by the Treasury, a calamitous health care rollout and near-perpetual congressional gridlock.
The budget bill was not the grand bargain that Mr Obama and congressional Republicans had initially sought.
It does, however, end the cycle of fiscal brinkmanship for now and prevents another government shutdown for nearly two years.
The bill reduces automatic across-the-board spending cuts, restores about $63bn over two years and includes a projected $85bn in other savings.
The president also signed a comprehensive defence bill on Thursday that cracks down on sexual assault in the military.
Under the legislation, military commanders no longer will be permitted to overturn jury convictions for sexual assault.
Its signing caps a year-long campaign led by women in the Senate to address the scourge of rape and sexual assault in the US military.
The bill also gives military personnel a 1% pay raise and provides $552.1bn for the regular military budget, plus $80.7bn for the Afghanistan war and other overseas operations.
Mr Obama signed the two bills and several others in private, without reporters present, after an early-morning trip to the gym at the Marine Corps base near his vacation rental in Oahu.
With the last vestiges of 2013's legislative wrangling behind him, the president's attention turns now to major challenges and potential bright spots in the year ahead.
In late January, Mr Obama will give his fifth State of the Union address, setting his agenda for the final stretch before the 2014 midterm elections render him less able to focus Washington's attention on his own priorities.
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