White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the cuts would offset "pretty good" economic activity over the past few months. GOP Rep. Paul Ryan was pessimistic about a deal, while Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said the two sides would come together for an agreement.
The explosions targeted mainly Shiite neighborhoods. The attack comes amid increasing Shiite-Sunni tension in Iraq.
Pope Benedict XVI asked those gathered in St. Peter's Square to continue praying for him and the next pope. He steps down as pope Feb. 28.