(Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama said a spending plan for the U.S. government that includes $680 billion in tax breaks isn’t exactly what he wanted, but praised Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for a deal that will allow him to work with Congress on new policies.
“I’m not wild about everything in it,” Obama said at a White House news conference on Friday before he signed the measure into law. “I’m sure that’s true for everybody.”
He said the plan would invest in the military and “the middle class” without Republican proposals to weaken new regulations on banks and emissions of carbon pollution.
Obama said he has a “good working relationship” with Ryan, of Wisconsin. “I think he is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works.” That’s in contrast with Ryan’s predecessor, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, who had become estranged from the White House by the end of his career.
By ending the threat of a government shutdown over fiscal matters, “Congress and I have a long runway to get some important things done on behalf of the American people,” Obama said. He pointed to an overhaul of U.S. prison sentences and a 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as two issues he hopes lawmakers will address in 2016.
Obama signed the $1.1 trillion spending plan about 90 minutes after his news conference. He supported the legislation despite opposition to provisions reviving business tax breaks by some Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She voted for the final bill, saying that Democrats won “significant concessions” in the measure. Some Republicans who supported the tax breaks voted against the bill, saying it provided for too much government spending.
By signing the bill into law, Obama lifts a 40-year-old ban on most U.S. crude oil exports. He opposed ending the ban, which represents a victory for Republicans. However, the White House considered the legislation a success because several Republican proposals that Democrats deemed “ideological riders” were deflected, including provisions to defund the women’s health provider Planned Parenthood, roll back Obama’s environmental agenda, and limit the Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
The bill does put off the effective date of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Cadillac plan tax for two years and cancels collection of the multi-billion-dollar PPACA health insurer fee for 2017.
The deal will fund the government through Sept. 30. It came together after Congress missed Oct. 1 and Dec. 11 deadlines to pass full-year spending plans and sent Obama temporary stopgap measures instead. The last of them expires Dec. 22.
—With assistance from Mike Dorning, Billy House and Erik Wasson
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