House News, News, Senate News, Spending/Taxes

Congress Agrees to $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill; Avoids Shutdown

Won't be seeing these signs for a while. (Photo by Reuters)
Won’t be seeing these signs for a while. (Photo by Reuters)

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have reached a deal to fund the federal government through September 2015. The agreement was first reported by the Associated Press early Tuesday evening.

The total cost of the bill, which was posted on the House website late Tuesday night, will be $1.1 trillion. Included within the bill is funding for most federal departments and agencies, including the FDA, the Defense Department, the military, and transportation agencies. However, funding for the Department of Homeland Security will be passed separately since the funding will only extend to February 2015 instead of September like the rest of the bill.

Also included within the spending bill is language than would prohibit the District of Colombia from legalizing recreational marijuana. D.C. voters had voted in favor of legalizing pot for recreational use on Election Day this year. Congress can set law for the D.C. area since it is not apart of any state and falls under the jurisdiction of Congress.

Other highlights of the bill can be found here on the House Appropriation Committee’s website. Some of those highlights include:

  • No money for President Obama’s “Race to the Top”, a program meant to reform the education system
  • No new funds for the Affordable Care Act
  • No money for a high-speed railway system
  • Over $400 million in cuts to the IRS and EPA
  • $64 billion to support troops fighting ISIS, for more training for the Iraqi military, and support for “European countries facing Russian aggression”

MSNBC reports that the spending bill will most likely be voted on by both chambers on Thursday, which is the day funding for the government runs out. This could present an issue.

From NPR:

If the bill passes, the Senate would only have hours, not days, to work through it and hold its own vote.

“That could theoretically happen,” [NPR’s Alisa] Chang says, “but it requires getting all the Senate Republicans to agree to bypass some procedural rules and fast-track it. And the Senate is a funny, traditional place: it only takes one senator to object to all of that.”

Chang makes an excellent point that Congress does, in fact, take forever under normal conditions to pass any kind of bill. And when considering that some senators, according to the AP article, have already expressed concern that the bill is too large, passage in the Senate could be a problem.

According to NPR, the Senate could pass a continuing resolution to fund the government for a short period of time in order to workshop the trillion dollar bill some more.


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