White House praises sweeping omnibus, tax deal

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The White House gave a thumbs-up on Wednesday to a sweeping year-end deal on taxes and government funding.

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“We feel good about the outcome, primarily because we got a compromise budget agreement,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

In a statement formally endorsing the deal, the White House said it “urges the Congress to pass this legislation.”

His comments send a strong signal that President Obama will put his signature on the measures if they pass the House and Senate.

The $1.1 trillion spending package funds the government through the fall of 2016, while the tax measure provides $560 billion in relief by renewing expiring breaks.

The package was finalized late Tuesday night after days of intense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The omnibus spending measure was largely stripped of controversial policy riders opposed by the White House and Democrats, including language rolling back Obama’s Syrian refugee plans and key environmental and financial regulations.

Earnest ticked off a laundry list of victories ranging from the exclusion of “ideological riders,” such as language defunding Planned Parenthood, and an across-the-board increase in spending above levels set by sequestration.

“We walked into these negotiations focused on making sure that Republicans would not succeed in advancing their ideological agenda through the budget process,” the spokesman said. “We did succeed in fighting off those efforts.”

But the spending measure postpones the “Cadillac tax” on expensive healthcare plans and the tax legislation delays the medical device tax for two years, both moves opposed by the Obama administration because they are critical revenue sources for the Affordable Care Act.

Earnest said, however, said those provisions would have only a “minimal” effect on the overall health law. And he dismissed Republicans who declared their inclusion in the spending bill is a victory against ObamaCare.

The spokesman noted that Congress has voted 50 times to repeal the president’s signature healthcare law since 2010.

“When you consider their ambitions, the steps that are included in this proposal are quite, quite meager," he said.

Lawmakers also lifted the four-decade-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports, another provision the White House is against. But in exchange, Republican lawmakers agreed to extend a series of tax breaks for renewable energy producers.

“The administration doesn’t support every element of the agreement, but there are a lot of reasons for the president to feel good about what was accomplished,” Earnest said.

Democrats also won victories in the deal by making permanent the expansions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit and college tuition tax breaks. All were key pieces of Obama’s 2009 stimulus law.

Earnest called those tax provisions “a great example of how the president brought change to Washington, D.C. in a way that will be felt by 24 million Americans across the country.”

Congress will need to pass a stopgap funding measure on Wednesday to avoid a government shutdown. That continuing resolution will run through Dec. 22 to give the Senate enough time to pass both the tax and spending bills.

The House is expected to vote on the tax measure on Thursday, and the spending bill Friday.

--This report was updated at 2:49 p.m.