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.
He also signed a $633 billion defense bill authorizing fiscal year 2013 expenditures for the Defense Department. The measure tightens penalties on Iran and bolsters security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly Sept. 11 atack in Benghazi, Libya.
Obama had threatened to veto the measure due to a number of conerns, including limits on his authority to transfer terrorist suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for one year, but acknowledged "the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore."