Pete Souza / White House

President Obama may soon be rounding the final bend of his presidency, but he apparently hasn’t lost his ability to push contested legislation through the congressional gantlet.

Late on Monday night, the president and Republican members of Congress reached a provisional agreement on the terms of the government’s 2016 budget bill.

Partly because of the GOP’s unsettled state in the House of Representatives, the draft contains several elements that represent wins for the White House (per The New York Times):

The deal is the policy equivalent of keeping the lights on — hardly the stuff of a bold fiscal legacy for the president — but it achieves the main objective of his 2016 budget: to break free of the spending shackles he agreed to when he signed the Budget Control Act of 2011.

For this fiscal year alone, the deal would add $50 billion in spending, divided equally between defense and domestic programs, as well as $16 billion for emergency war spending, half for the military, half for the State Department. Together, that represents an increase of $66 billion in the spending limits for 2016, not far off the $70 billion increase Mr. Obama requested in his budget.

From the moment he introduced his budget on Feb. 2, Mr. Obama held firm on his insistence on breaking through the punishing across-the-board cuts known as sequestration in the Budget Control Act to provide equal increases to domestic and military spending. He promised to veto any spending bill that adhered to the statutory spending caps, made good on that threat this month by vetoing a popular defense policy bill, enlisted the support of congressional Democrats with whom his White House had sometimes sparred on budget matters and capitalized on Republican divisions to get his way.

Senate Democrats created an impenetrable wall for Republicans determined to stick to the caps, filibustering the spending bills that reached the Senate floor and threatening to block the ones that did not.

Of course, the bill has yet to formally pass through legislative channels, but at this point, it’s looking as if the president just might get through his last year in office without being hobbled by the threat of budget-related implosions on Capitol Hill.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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