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What the $1.3 trillion spending bill buys - and doesn't buy - the American people

Congress is deciding on a $1.3 trillion spending bill, which leaders of both parties have praised. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

A $12 million increase in Senate staff salaries, $15 million to study high obesity counties, $8 million for breastfeeding grants and $4 million to combat excessive alcohol abuse are all included in the omnibus bill presented before Congress this week.

There's also a mandate for improving wine label accuracy and another $2.05 million dedicated to prevent elderly falls.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate were given just hours to read the 2,232 page spending package that was rolled out Wednesday night after 8pm. The House approved the bill on Thursday, 256-167, with a few members from both sides of the aisle expressing outrage that they were not given enough time to read the legislation before voting.

Pressure to approve the measure is driven by yet another looming government shutdown that would occur Friday without the bill's passing.

The omnibus bolsters the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases, adds to national health care programs in the form of a $3 billion addition to the National Institutes of Health and another $4 billion to fighting the opioid epidemic.

Significant initiatives were also left out of the bill, with President Trump seeing only $1.6 billion in border security, down from the $25 billion he'd hoped for in building a wall. Planned Parenthood still retained their funding, and so did sanctuary cities.

In order for the bill to pass, each Senate Republican must give it a nod. That means all eyes are on Senator Rand Paul, who is seen as the greatest threat to its passage. In a tweet on Wednesday, Paul sarcastically wrote "It's a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into the Omni...wait, what?"

Paul has remained mum on whether or not he'll block the bill, and when asked, told New York Magazine that he's "on page 56 right now and so I've got a few more pages to read." Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will vote on the omnibus "whenever Senator Paul decides we can."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer praised the legislation on Thursday, saying "Every bill takes compromise, and there was plenty here, but at the end of the day we Democrats feel very good because so many of our priorities for the middle class were included."

 

One last thing…
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