White House urges Congress to pass budget deal

The White House on Tuesday urged members of Congress to pass a budget based on a bipartisan agreement reached by congressional leaders Monday night.

A White House official said the deal passes President Obama’s “key tests” of lifting spending caps, known as sequestration, while shielding Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries from "harmful cuts."

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"We urge members of Congress from both parties to take the next step and pass a budget based on this agreement," the official said.

"It provides substantial relief from harmful spending cuts, and it does so equally on the defense and non-defense sides of the budget," the official added. "It’s a responsible agreement that is paid for in a balanced way by ensuring that hedge funds and private equity firms pay the taxes they owe and by cutting billions in wasteful spending."

The White House made the economic case for the deal, saying that increasing spending caps would help create 340,000 jobs in 2016. Over the next two years, the economy is expected to add 500,000 job years, according to a Council of Economic Advisers report.

The pact would extend the debt ceiling to March 2017 and raise budget caps by $112 billion over the next two years, avoiding the threats of a government shutdown and debt default until after next year’s presidential election.

If passed, the deal could be a potential boon for President Obama, handing him a bipartisan legislative victory late in his second term. It would free Obama from fighting more budget battles with Congress as he seeks lawmakers’ support for his Pacific Rim trade deal, education and criminal justice reforms.  

It would also provide a fresh start for Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanShutdown risk grows over Flint Senate poised to override Obama veto Reid to media: Call Trump a racist MORE (R-Wis.), who is expected to be elected Speaker this week but did not participate in the budget negotiations.Outgoing Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio), who played a pivotal role in securing the deal, has repeatedly said he wants to “clean the barn” for his successor.

The budget agreement also reverses mandatory spending cuts put in place by a 2011 agreement. Obama and Democrats have demanded for months that Congress lift those spending caps dollar-for-dollar on the domestic and defense side of the ledger.

The White House’s endorsement could be used to woo Democrats, who will likely be asked to bring many votes to support the agreement. But that could prove difficult because of the offsets used to pay for the increased spending, which include cuts to both Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.

Republican leaders could also have a tough time securing votes from their rank-and-file. Conservative lawmakers have complained that the deal increases spending and have expressed frustration at the closed-door nature of the negotiations.

Ryan distanced himself from the agreement on Tuesday, telling reporters the budget process “stinks.”

“I'm reserving judgment on this agreement because quite frankly I haven't seen it yet on paper,” Ryan said of the bill, which was posted online late Monday night.

This story was updated at 11:19 a.m.