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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Congress Passes $1 Trillion Spending Measure

    Congress Passes $1 Trillion Spending Measure

    By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN DEC. 18, 2015
    11 COMMENTS


    WASHINGTON — Congress on Friday morning overwhelmingly gave final approval to a sweeping, year-end fiscal package that includes a $1.15 trillion spending measure as well as $620 billion in tax breaks for businesses and low-income workers.

    The bill now goes to the White House, where President Obama has said he will sign it.


    After a period of belt-tightening in Washington — including automatic budget cuts imposed in 2013 — the spending measure for 2016 provides a notable $66 billion increase in federal outlays above previously agreed-upon limits, divided equally between military and nonmilitary programs. It also represents a return to a more traditional appropriations process, with lawmakers directing money to an array of their priorities, including a $1.4 billion increase for military construction projects and $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health.


    In keeping with a bipartisan compromise, hashed out in an era of divided government and deep-rooted philosophical differences, all sides claimed victory.

    Photo

    The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, with Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, on Capitol Hill on Thursday. The Senate leadership also supported the bill.CreditZach Gibson/The New York Times

    The White House and Congressional Democrats said they had thwarted the Republicans’ main policy goals, including efforts to cut off government financing for Planned Parenthood and put restrictions on Syrian andIraqi refugees, while securing a number of their own priorities, including tax benefits for working Americans and to promote renewable energy.

    In concrete, and personal terms, however, the approval of the legislation capped several weeks of early successes for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, who mustered a majority of Republicans in favor of a compromise spending measure — support the rank-and-file had been loath to give his predecessor, John A. Boehner.


    After ushering through major highway and education bills that had lingered on the Congressional agenda for months, Mr. Ryan, who is the former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, pushed through the major tax-break package that many Democrats opposed, but even they acknowledged fit with his larger vision for fiscal policy. Budget watchdog groups sharply criticized the legislation, saying it would add $2 trillion to the nation’s debt over 20 years.


    In the House, which approved the tax breaks on Thursday, the vote Friday morning on the spending measure was 316 to 113, with 150 Republicans and 166 Democrats supporting the bill.


    The Senate followed with uncharacteristic alacrity. In expedited floor action, on the edge of the holiday recess, the Senate voted to end debate on the overall legislation, dispensed with several procedural steps, and approved the package.


    The spending measure includes some major policy provisions, including a lifting of the 40-year ban on crude oil exports and the reauthorization and expansion of benefits from emergency workers suffering from health problems related to their work responding to the Sept. 11 attack in New York City.


    In response to concerns raised partly by recent terrorist attacks, the spending measure requires more vigorous security checks as part of the visa-waiver program, by which millions of visitors enter the United States under an expedited process. The package also incorporates legislation that expands the sharing of information between private firms and federal security agencies to prevent cyberattacks.


    The Obama administration has expressed particular satisfaction that, after weeks of tense negotiations, it succeeded in fending off numerous policy amendments that Republicans had sought to attach to the spending bill, including efforts to block environmental and labor rules and to impose new restrictions on Syrian and Iraqi refugees coming to the United States.


    Mr. Ryan, while criticizing the last-minute catchall nature of the legislation, hailed its passage as a triumph for conservative ideals and for the country.


    “This bipartisan compromise secures meaningful wins for Republicans and the American people, such as the repeal of the outdated, anti-growth ban on oil exports,” Mr. Ryan said. “The legislation strengthens our military and protects Americans from terrorist threats, while limiting the overreach of intrusive government bureaucracies.”


    Democrats claimed their own win. “This is a victory for House Democrats and the American people,” said Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York. “We started with a bill that had all the bad stuff in and all the good stuff out. We negotiated a bill that has all the bad stuff out and all the good stuff in.”



    Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Mr. Ryan has praised the spending measure as a bipartisan compromise. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

    Since retaking the majority in 2011, most House Republicans have voted against compromise spending measures, forcing party leaders to rely on Democrats for votes. That trend reversed itself on Friday, as a majority in both parties voted in favor of the measure. Marshaling Democratic support proved somewhat challenging, however, because of Democratic opposition to the tax package, which party leaders said favored businesses over the middle class.

    “This bill is even referred to as a Christmas tree bill because special interests get special presents, all in ornaments on this tree,” Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, said in a speech on the House floor on Thursday.


    “Like many shoppers out there, they put it all on the credit card, except that it’s your credit card,” Mr. Doggett said, adding, “If you add this much debt unpaid for in a fiscally irresponsible way you begin to jeopardize retirement security, Medicare and Social Security, because those so-called entitlements are next up on the chopping block.”




    Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and a member of the Appropriations Committee, managed much of the floor debate for Republicans and said that all lawmakers could find items to support or oppose in such a huge spending and tax-break package.

    “There is much to be proud of in this 2,000-page bill and accompanying explanatory statement,” Mr. Cole said, adding: “This omnibus spending measure is a compromise and a reflection of divided government but it also demonstrates a commitment by both sides toward restoring regular order in this House.”


    In the Senate, leaders in each party expressed support for the deal.


    “Here’s the bottom line in my view,” the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky said on Thursday. “This legislation is worth supporting.”


    Mr. McConnell added, “It’s not perfect and we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted. It makes strides in defending our nation at a time of global unrest. It advances conservative priorities in several areas an enacts significant reform in several areas on everything from tax relief to energy policy to cybersecurity. I plan to vote for it.”


    There was also sharp criticism over both process and substance. Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, called it “an affront to the Constitution.”


    “A small handful of leaders from the two parties got together behind closed doors to decide what the nation’s taxing and spending policies would be for the next year,” Mr. Lee said in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday.

    “And then, after several weeks, the negotiators emerged – grand bargain in hand – confident that the people they deliberately excluded from the policy making process would now support all 2,242 pages of the legislative leviathan that they cooked up. This is not how a self-governing – or self-respecting – institution operates, and everyone here knows it.”


    Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who is also seeking the Republican nomination for president, had threatened on Thursday to delay passage of the package. Speaking on Fox Television, Mr. Rubio said, “We can slow down the process and force them to make changes and there is no doubt and we can and we should and will. There is an effort with many conservatives to make it happen.”


    But shortly after his remarks, Mr. McConnell went to the floor and secured an agreement for a fast-track series of votes on Friday morning — a process that Mr. Rubio could have blocked but did not, much to the relief of his Senate colleagues eager to begin their holiday recess.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/19/us...ding-bill.html

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Even Porn Stars Think That $1.6 Billion For ‘Refugee Assistance’ Is Omnibulls**t

    Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the “omnibus” government funding bill and tax breaks extension package late Tuesday night.

    The plan — worth a staggering $1.1 trillion — would keep the government funded until September 2016, but it would also provide $1.6 billion for immigrant relocation services and activities, reports the Washington Free Beacon.

    Under the White House’s deferred action protocols, customs officials are urged to detain, not deport illegal immigrants — they’ve set up camps in Texas to deal with an anticipated News Year immigration rush —

    and an additional $1.6 billion in immigrant-targeted government spending is too much for some Americans to swallow.

    Including former porn star Jenna Jameson.
    Read more: Porn Star Jenna Jameson Reacts To Omnibus Immigration Spending | The Daily Caller








    Well said, Jenna.

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