WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised a bipartisan budget deal as a good start and urged the Congress to quickly pass a budget based on the accord.
“Today’s bipartisan budget agreement is a good first step,” Obama said in a statement. “I want to call on members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and actually pass a budget based on this agreement so I can sign it into law.”
Obama praised elements of the deal, saying the modest rollback of the across-the-board “sequester” spending cuts would ease a drag on economic growth. He called the measure “balanced” because it increases government revenues and includes spending cuts he said would not hurt the economy.
He further gave a nod to long-feuding Democrats and Republicans for coming to terms and avoiding the brinkmanship that led to a government shutdown in October and a near-default in 2011.
“This agreement doesn’t include everything I’d like — and I know many Republicans feel the same way,” he said. “But it’s a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done.”
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine and a member of the joint House-Senate Budget Conference Committee, praised the deal that was announced by Sen. Patty Murray and committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that they have reached a two-year budget agreement in advance of the budget conference’s Dec. 13 deadline.
“The announcement of a budget agreement by Senator Murray and Congressman Ryan represents a significant and desperately needed victory for compromise and bipartisanship in a Congress that has been plagued by extreme gridlock,” King said. “While there are provisions within the deal that I do not agree with, I understand that in order to move forward and best serve the nation, compromises must be made. I urge my colleagues to recognize that, although the deal is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction.”
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion – about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.
The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 billion and $23 billion.
The House is expected to take up the Bipartisan Budget Act first. If this bill is signed into law, the appropriations committees will then be able to work on spending bills at an agreed-upon level in advance of the Jan. 15 deadline.