End to Export Ban: Congress OKs year-end budget deal, sends to Obama

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

Republicans won increases for military spending and an end to a ban on exporting U.S. oil, as well as permanent tax cuts for business investment.

President Barack Obama puts the cap back on the pen after signing the budget in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress on Friday sent President Barack Obama a bipartisan but deficit draining year-end budget package that boosts U.S. government spending while removing any threat of a government shutdown or a default on debt obligations.

A 65-33 Senate vote on the bill was the last act that shipped the measure, combining $1.14 trillion in new spending in 2016 and $680 billion in tax cuts over the coming decade, to Obama. It had earlier swept through the House on a pair of decisive votes on Thursday and Friday, marking a peaceful end to a yearlong struggle over the budget, taxes, and Republican efforts to derail his regulatory agenda.

Obama signed the measure, which includes many of the spending increases he fought for all year and is largely cleansed of Republican attempts to block his moves the environment, financial regulation, and consumer protection. Republicans won increases for military spending and an end to a ban on exporting U.S. oil, as well as permanent tax cuts for business investment.

In exchange for ending the oil export ban, Democrats won extensions of tax breaks for alternative power sources such as solar and wind energy.

Many on each side saw the budget deal as the best they could get under divided government. The need to win Obama's signature helped rid the measure of most of the controversial Republican provisions: killing federal money for women's health care provider Planned Parenthood, limiting the flow of Syrian refugees and undoing dozens of Obama actions on the environment, labor, financial regulation and relations with Cuba.

Senate Republicans were evenly split with 27 of them voting in favor and 26 against the bill. Only six Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders, a presidential hopeful, voted against the measure.

With the votes, lawmakers wrapped up a surprisingly productive, bipartisan burst of late-session legislation in a divided Congress and adjourned until January.

The measure received big majorities in both House and Senate. It capped an impressive first few weeks for new Republican Speaker Paul Ryan,, who got the benefit of the doubt from most Republicans, who by a wide margin opposed earlier legislation that established the framework for the budget package. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a key negotiator, swung forcefully behind the measure after showing initial frustration over its lifting of an oil export ban and lack of action on helping Puerto Rico address its fiscal woes.


Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.

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