President Barack Obama signed an agriculture bill worth more than $950 billion Friday, saying the rare product of cooperation in Washington was an example of how the gridlocked US political capital should work.
Obama traveled to Michigan to highlight the measure, which he compared to a Swiss Army knife because it had so many different functions as it expands US food exports, broadens conservation and safeguards water resources.
Obama said the new law did not include everything he would like -- and admitted Republican leaders felt the same way.
"But it's a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come through with this bill, break the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven, partisan decision-making and actually get this stuff done." Obama said.
Prospects for more significant legislation in Obama's second term seem less bright though, as hopes for comprehensive immigration reform have suffered a setback amid grassroots conservative opposition and Republicans in the House of Representatives are blocking much of the president's agenda.
The $954.6 billion bill passed after a political battle lasting more than three years over plans to cut agricultural subsidies and Republican efforts to reduce the size of the food stamp program which provides nutrition to poor families.
The bill slashed $23 billion from the deficit over 10 years, but some congressional conservatives opposed the measure for not cutting enough.
Several liberals also opposed the bill, arguing cuts to the food stamp program -- which would reduce aid to 850,000 families, according to government estimates -- went too deep.
But Obama said that the efforts of Democrats meant that many of those most in need would still get help.
"My position has always been that any farm bill I sign must include protections for vulnerable Americans... this bill does that."
© AFP 2014