U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds the federal government through the end of September.
'Goodness gracious, that is a big piece of business. That is a big bill.' - Barack Obama
Obama put his signature on the 1,582-page measure the day before federal funding was set to run out. He made the short walk from the White House to sign it at a nearby conference centre, saying he wanted the ceremony held there because the bill is the product of the hard work of the many budget office employees who work there.
"We would not be here and we would not be able to sign this legislation if it hadn't been for your work and your dedication," the president said. "And so this is my way of saying thank you."
He noted that many budget office employees were furloughed during last October's 16-day government shutdown and that those who remained on the job had to pick up the slack.
"Across the board, our government is going to be operating without, hopefully, too many glitches over the next year," Obama told budget office employees who attended the bill signing. "And not only is that good for all of you and all the dedicated public servants in the federal government but, most importantly, it's good for the American people."
"It means that we can focus our attention where we need to, on growing this economy and making sure that everybody gets a fair shot as long as they try," he said.
The compromise measure passed both houses of Congress this week by overwhelming margins. It funds every agency of the federal government and also scales back automatic across-the-board spending cuts, known as the sequester, that hit the Pentagon and major domestic programs last year.
The measure calls for less spending than Obama had proposed but more than Republicans sought. However, lawmakers of both parties were determined to avoid a repeat of the political showdown that caused the government shutdown.
Before he sat down, Obama looked at the blue box that held the bill and exclaimed: "Goodness gracious, that is a big piece of business. That is a big bill."