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Obama Signs Stop-gap Budget Bill

April 9, 2011 (United Press International) President Obama Saturday signed the budget bridge bill that will keep the federal government running until Congress passes a final version in the coming week.

The White House issued a statement that said simply the president had signed H.R. 1363, providing appropriations through April 15.

The interim bill was needed to avoid a government shutdown because while the president and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders reached agreement Friday night on a budget deal for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, more time was needed to work out the details.

Shortly after signing the continuing resolution Saturday afternoon, Obama was driven to the Lincoln Memorial. He was greeted by a cheering crowd when he made his way up the steps and shook hands with tourists.

"Hi everybody," he said. "I just wanted to say, real quick, that because Congress was able to settle its differences, that's why this place is open today and everybody's able to enjoy their visit. And that's the kind of future cooperation I hope we have going forward. Because this is what America is all about: everybody from different places enjoying those things that bind us together. It is wonderful to spend time with you guys, I hope you have a great time."

The president didn't take questions from reporters but shook more hands on his way down the memorial's steps.

While the president, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had all handed out kudos to both sides of the political aisle for averting a shutdown, the cuts agreed to -- $38.5 billion or $87.5 billion, depending on the starting point used -- still leave the country facing a huge deficit. The cuts so far only amount to little more than 5 percent of the total deficit, CBS News estimated. That means even tougher negotiating when Congress starts hammering out the 2012 fiscal year budget.

"There is not much of a difference between a $1.5 trillion deficit and a $1.6 trillion deficit," CBS quoted Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who voted against the short-term funding bill, as saying.

Failure to deal with the big picture "will lead us to a debt crisis that we may not recover from," he said.

Congress also must deal with the federal debt limit, which will need raising in the coming weeks. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said this week the U.S. government will bump up against the $14.3 trillion ceiling on borrowing "no later than May 16" with the risk of defaulting on its obligations by July 8.

Copyright United Press International 2011

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