WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

(Story by: Julie Pace, White House Correspondent, The Associated Press)