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President signs fiscal cliff, defense bills

3:08 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

HONOLULU -- President Barack Obama has signed a bill that boosts taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while preserving tax cuts for most American households.

The bill, which averts a looming fiscal cliff that had threatened to plunge the nation back into recession, also extends expiring jobless benefits, prevents cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors and delays for two months billions of dollars in across-the-board spending cuts in defense and domestic programs.

The GOP-run House approved the measure by a 257-167 vote late Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after the Democratic-led Senate passed it 89-8.

Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, signed the bill using an autopen, a mechanical device that copies his signature.

The president also signed a $633 billion defense bill for next year that tightens penalties on Iran and bolsters security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Obama had threatened to veto the measure because of a number of concerns, including limits on his authority to transfer terrorist suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for one year.

But Obama said that although he continued to oppose certain sections of the bill, "the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore."

The bill includes cuts in defense spending that the president and congressional Republicans agreed to in August 2011, along with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan.

 

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