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Obama signs 2011 budget deal into law

By Alan Silverleib, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama signs the spending deal covering the rest of the current fiscal year
  • The deal includes spending reductions totalling $38.5 billion
  • The measure passed both houses of Congress on Thursday
  • Political leaders are now turning their attention to the debt ceiling and the fiscal year 2012 budget

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama signed the budget agreement covering federal spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year on Friday, bringing an end to any remaining fears of a government shutdown.

The bipartisan deal, which won approval Thursday from both the House and Senate, cuts $38.5 billion in spending while funding the government through September 30.

In a White House statement, Obama expressed his objection to two sections of the agreement, which prohibit the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States and to move detainees into the custody of foreign countries unless specific conditions are met.

"Despite my continued strong objection to these provisions, I have signed this act because of the importance of avoiding a lapse in appropriations for the federal government, including our military activities, for the remainder of fiscal year 2011," the president said.

"Nevertheless, my administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future."

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The president also said his administration would interpret a section of the agreement so as not to strip him of the right to fund some senior White House adviser positions.

With its passage, White House and congressional leaders now turn their attention to what are expected to be more rancorous battles over the budget for the next fiscal year and the upcoming need to raise the federal debt limit.

The deal covering the current year was announced by key leaders shortly before midnight last Friday, a mere hour before what would have been the start of a partial shutdown. Spokesmen on both sides of the aisle portrayed it as a step toward controlling America's skyrocketing debt.

The measure passed the Republican-controlled House on a 260-167 vote. The bill would not have passed, however, without support from members of both parties. Fifty-nine members of the GOP majority opposed it, showing the challenge faced by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in keeping his conservative Tea Party-infused caucus unified amid politically perilous tax and spending negotiations with the Democrats.

The House vote also reflected growing liberal angst and anger over the impending spending reductions. Only 81 Democrats backed the measure; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, voted no.

In the Democratic-controlled Senate, the final vote was 81-19.

House passes sweeping GOP budget cuts

Under the deal, $38.5 billion will be cut from the budget, including funding from a wide range of domestic programs and services such as high-speed rail, emergency first responders and the National Endowment for the Arts.

As part of the agreement, Congress also voted Thursday on measures to de-fund Planned Parenthood and Obama's health care overhaul. As expected, both passed the House and were defeated in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

One point of concern for conservatives was a report released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing that of the $38.5 billion in savings, only $352 million will actually be realized this fiscal year. Boehner insisted Thursday that all of the cuts will take effect eventually, but conceded that the analysis caused a degree of "confusion" among House members.

"I'm disappointed," said freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois. "I just think we could have gotten more."

 
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