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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama signs $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill

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Politics,White House,Congress,Barack Obama,PennAve,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown,Meghashyam Mali

President Obama on Friday signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill to keep the federal government funded through September and avoid another shutdown.

Obama signed the bill before a small audience at the New Executive Office Building near the White House, where he was joined by staffers from the Office of Management and Budget.

The president remarked on the size of the 1,582 page bill, which rested in a large box.

"Goodness gracious, that is a big piece of business; that is a big bill,” said Obama. "I'm always interested in, like, where do they have the boxes for the really big ones."

The president also thanked his budget team, telling them that the bill represented the “hours and hours and weekends and nights when people are paying attention and sweating the details.”

"We would not be here, we would not be able to sign this legislation if it hadn't been for your work," he added. "This is my way of saying thank you."

The Senate passed the bill on Thursday -- a day after the House -- with an overwhelming majority in both chambers voting in favor. Obama had until midnight Saturday, when stopgap funding expired, to sign the bill.

The omnibus was an element of the two-year budget deal crafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Lawmakers from both parties praised the deal as a rare mark of bipartisan cooperation after GOP efforts in 2013 to defund Obamacare led to a 16-day federal government shutdown and brought the U.S. to within hours of defaulting on its debt.

Congress and the president now must raise the nation’s debt limit, which Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says the U.S. will hit in late February or early March.

Obama has said that 2014 will be a “year of action” and is pushing lawmakers to enact a host of new economic initiatives to combat income inequality and bolster the middle class.

In brief remarks before signing the bill, Obama touted his administration’s economic record.

"We did everything we can to lay the foundation so we have a middle class in this country that is thriving and growing," he said. "We've made remarkable progress over the last five years, but we haven't made enough."

"Part of the reason we haven't made as much progress as we needed to is, we had a series of self-inflicted wounds in this town," he added.

Obama walked the short distance from the White House to the New Executive Office Building to sign the bill.

"Whenever I get the chance to take a walk I seize it," Obama told reporters as he left the White House.

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