President Barack Obama on Wednesday handed Congress a rare victory as the legislative year comes to a frantic close when the White House endorsed a massive, policy-rider filled omnibus bill and legislation that would extend a slew of tax cuts.
Congressional leaders unveiled the package of tax break extenders late Tuesday, followed early Wednesday morning by a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending measure needed to avert a holiday government shutdown that would have left both parties politically damaged.
The House will vote on the “tax extenders” bill and the omnibus measure separately, with the former expected to pass along party lines with all Republican votes. The two packages likely will then be combined and sent to the Senate as a single measure, virtually ensuring its passage.
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That left one remaining — but large — question: Would Obama sign off on the final product, which contains an oil export ban-lifting provision and others the White House opposes?
Deputy White House Press Secretary Jennifer Friedman signaled he would, essentially ending the latest round of Washington’s year-end budget drama.
“The president's team is still reviewing the text of omnibus, but it appears to meet the priorities the president outlined first at the beginning of this year,” Friedman said in a statement, “and later in the budget framework that the Democrats and Republicans agreed on two months ago which bolsters our security, grows our economy, and reflects our values.
She said the final omnibus package “appears to meet three key conditions” crucial to securing Obama’s signature: It would lift defense and domestic spending caps; is free of the policy riders GOP members had attempted to include; and “invests in both national security and economic growth.”
“The omnibus makes critical investments in education, basic research, and job training that will strengthen the middle class, while giving our men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to keep us safe,” Friedman said.
In a major victory for congressional Republicans, the White House also endorsed the tax bill.
“We are pleased that the deal will permanently extend tax credits that help working families make ends meet and pay for college, benefiting 24 million families a year," Friedman said.
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