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White House greets budget deal with caution, hope

In this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks to the media as he and first lady Michelle Obama meet with a group of mothers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president"™s advisers say they"™re still sea
In this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks to the media as he and first lady Michelle Obama meet with a group of mothers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president"™s advisers say they"™re still searching for the larger meaning in the bipartisan budget deal, if there is one at all.
Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — There were no champagne corks popping at the White House after Congress passed a two-year budget deal, no declarations of a new era of cooperation in President Barack Obama's second term.

Instead, the modest agreement passed Wednesday served as a stark year-end reminder of how low expectations for Washington sank in 2013. That's particularly true for a president who hoped his resounding re-election would clear the way for progress on immigration, the long-term debt and tax reform.

The president's advisers say they're still searching for the larger meaning in the deal, if there is one. At best, it could provide an opening to make progress on Obama's stalled legislative agenda. Or it could simply be an isolated move by lawmakers eager to head for the exits after a dismal year.