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Budget Bill Signed Into Law By Obama

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BUDGET BILL
President Barack Obama waves as he returns to the White House in Washington, Friday, April 15, 2011, after a trip to Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) | AP

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama signed a six-month spending bill Friday that cuts more than $38 billion from the current budget. The legislation averted a government shutdown and was the result of intense negotiations between the White House and emboldened Republicans.

There was no signing ceremony.

In an accompanying signing statement, however, Obama questioned the constitutionality of a provision in the spending bill that prevents the White House from retaining special policy advisers, or "czars." He also objected to two other sections that block the transfer of terrorist suspects from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States or to other countries.

"The prosecution of terrorists in federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the nation and must be among the options available to us," he said. "Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security."

In an interview earlier with The Associated Press, Obama conceded that he had not make his case with the American public to try terrorist suspects in civilian courts.

The anti-czar provision is not likely to affect any current White House advisers. Still, Obama said any legislative effort to impede his ability to retain senior advisers would violate the constitutional separation of powers. In a challenge to Congress, he said the executive branch would interpret that provision in a way that it does not inhibit his ability to get advice.

The House and Senate approved the spending agreement Thursday.

With that compromise behind them, the White House and Congress are now plunging into a larger debate over long-term deficits and the rising national debt. The debt will reach its ceiling of $14.3 trillion in mid-May, requiring a vote from Congress to raise the nation's credit limit.

Republicans are using the vote as leverage to extract further spending reductions from the president. On Friday, Obama said more reductions were inevitable.

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