President Obama on Thursday signed into law a bipartisan budget accord that eases across-the-board spending cuts and slightly lowers annual deficits.
Obama formally endorsed the bill, sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., during his holiday vacation in Hawaii.
Though not a major breakthrough, supporters hope the budget pact will end the type of Washington gridlock that culminated in a 16-day government shutdown and another standoff over the debt ceiling.
“It’s probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship,” Obama said during his last news conference of 2013, praising the compromise. “But it’s also fair to say that we’re not condemned to endless gridlock. There are areas where we can work together. “
Still, lawmakers must increase the nation’s borrowing capacity around early March or risk possible default.
Critics counter that the deal failed to address a soaring national debt and contains fee increases that amount to poorly disguised taxes, including a measure that will increase the cost of flights.
The budget deal easily passed both the House and Senate, overcoming vocal opposition from outside conservative groups.
The White House signaled Obama would support the deal as soon as it passed the House.
Obama on Thursday also signed the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2014. The measure includes provisions to crack down on military sexual assault and gives the president broader authority to transfer some detainees from Guantanamo Bay.