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Huge Spending Bill Would Bury Budget Battles

Lawmakers Agree To $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top congressional negotiators Monday night released a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year.

The massive measure fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest, but much-sought relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies after deep budget cuts last year.

The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.

The 1,582-page bill was released after weeks of negotiations between House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who kept a tight lid on the details until its release late Monday.

"This agreement shows the American people that we can compromise, and that we can govern," Mikulski said. "It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics."

The GOP-led House is slated to vote on the measure Wednesday, less than 48 hours after it became public. In their campaign to take over the House in 2010, Republicans promised a 72-hour review period. On Tuesday, the House is slated to approve a short-term funding bill to extend the Senate's deadline to finish the overall spending bill until midnight on Saturday. The current short-term spending bill expires at midnight Wednesday evening.

The measure doesn't contain in-your face victories for either side. The primary achievement was that there was an agreement in the first place after the collapse of the budget process last year, followed by a 16-day government shutdown and another brush with a disastrous first-ever default on U.S. obligations. After the shutdown and debt crisis last fall, House Budget committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., struck an agreement to avoid a repeat of the 5 percent cut applied to domestic agencies last year and to prevent the Pentagon from absorbing about $20 billion in new cuts on top of the ones that hit it last year.

White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell called the measure a "positive step" because it "unwinds some of the damaging cuts caused by sequestration, ensures the continuation of critical services the American people depend on, and brings us closer to returning the budget process to regular order." She also praised investments in early childhood education and infrastructure.

To be sure, there is plenty for both parties to oppose in the legislation. Conservatives face a vote to finance implementation of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and Wall Street regulations, both enacted in 2010 over solid Republican opposition. A conservative-backed initiative to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions was dumped overboard and social conservatives failed to win new restrictions on abortion. But Rogers muscled through other victories for the coal industry such as keeping the door open for Export-Import Bank financing of coal power plants overseas.

Democrats must accept new money for abstinence education programs they often ridicule, and conservatives can take heart that overall spending for daily agency operations has been cut by $79 billion, or 7 percent, from the high-water mark established by Democrats in 2010. That cut increases to $165 billion, or 13 percent, when cuts in war funding and disaster spending are accounted for. Money for Obama's high-speed rail program would be cut off, and rules restricting the sale of less efficient incandescent light bulbs would be blocked.

Democrats are more likely to climb aboard than tea party Republicans, but only after voting to give Obama about $6 billion more in Pentagon war funding than the $79 billion he requested. The additional war money is helping the Pentagon deal with a cash crunch in troop readiness accounts. Including foreign aid related to overseas security operations, total war funding reaches $92 billion, a slight cut from last year.

The alternative, however, is to allow automatic spending cuts to strike for a second year and even risk another government shutdown if Congress deadlocks.

At the same time, the bill is laced with sweeteners. One is a provision exempting disabled veterans and war widows from a pension cut enacted last month. The bill contains increases for veterans' medical care backed by both sides and fully funds the $6.7 billion budget for food aid for low-income pregnant women and their children. Yet the National Institutes of Health's proposed budget of $29.9 billion falls short of the $31 billion budget it won when Democrats controlled Congress. Democrats won a $100 million increase, to $600 million, for so-called TIGER grants for high-priority transportation infrastructure projects, a program that started with the 2009 stimulus bill.

The Internal Revenue Service budget was frozen at last year's post-sequester levels, as was the Transportation Security Administration. But Interior Department firefighting accounts won a major boost, more than 10 percent. A key State Department economic aid program absorbed an almost one-quarter cut from levels passed last March.

Overall, the measure keeps funding for day-to-day domestic agency budgets at levels agreed to last year before cuts of 5 percent were applied to every account. Those broadly applied cuts, called sequestration, were required because of Washington's inability to follow up a 2011 budget deal with additional deficit savings.

The spending bill would spare the Pentagon from a brutal second-wave cut of $20 billion in additional reductions on top of last year's $34 billion sequestration cut, which forced furloughs of civilian employees and harmed training and readiness accounts.

Consistent with recent defense measures, the bill largely fulfills the Pentagon's request for ships, aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other war-fighting equipment, including 29 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eight new warships as requested by the Navy, and a variety of other aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, new and improved F-18 fighters and new Army helicopters.

It also boosts funding by nearly $200 million for the joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense program known as David's Sling and Iron Dome. Israel's Iron Dome system is designed to intercept short-range rockets and mortars, and Congress repeatedly increases the amount of money for the program beyond an administration request.


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Paul Anderson January 14 2014 at 12:51 AM

We have nobody to blame but ourselves. We put them in office and we are to dumb to vote them out. When they spend their entire lives leaching of the people, what do we expect. The only reasonable answer is "term limits". Wait until we stop printing money, the bottom is going to drop out, then we can be a real "socialist" country. Sadly, Congress members never feel the money pinch.

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2 replies
devilsrain Paul Anderson January 14 2014 at 12:55 AM

I didnt vote the money printing liberals into office, I certainly didnt vote for the great Messiah who gives billions away to foreign countries. Speak for yourself

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3 replies
jaguara777 Paul Anderson January 14 2014 at 1:09 AM

How do term limits help, if a similar quality of politician is voted in again?

Term limits only help if better people replace the incumbents. Term limits are more expensive for the tax payers due to more pension expense.

We must cease voting for rich people. We must vote in people like us. Forget about millionaires and highly successful business people. Their agenda is not our agenda. It is quite simple.
Stop voting for rich. Vote middle class and regular folks!

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2 replies
Frank jaguara777 January 14 2014 at 1:26 AM

Who says politicians should get pensions? They are all rich in the first place and have no compunction about causing the folks to lose ours. These bastards need a pension like a fish needs a motorcycle.

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DWheatley83 jaguara777 January 14 2014 at 1:55 AM


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tronix56 January 14 2014 at 9:47 AM

While this is temporary and congress is out, the congress should not be paid for their lack of finishing the job. After all, their salary is extensive for public servants to be paid. Not to mention all the extra luxuries they get working there. Their complaint in the past is that they needed more pay to keep both their homes... their home in Washington and their home state.. how many people do you know that get a transfer are keeping their old home? John Boehner is a tyrant in congress wanting it to be the republican way or is it just his way?

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linda31 January 14 2014 at 9:20 AM

We The People need to stop this

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1 reply
rutch8 linda31 January 14 2014 at 9:29 AM


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bugrocksj January 14 2014 at 9:11 AM

heart breaking can only hope 2014

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luialva January 14 2014 at 2:50 AM

BOTH parties have some serious pork barrel in those funds .

I do find it interesting when the GOP screams about the Dems while they do the same thing, just different projects .

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Ben Bryant January 14 2014 at 3:01 AM

The Lying Bastards in Washington have sold us out again!! This is a bad, sick joke that's come true! We now work for crooked politicians! They're ALL corrupt and a disgrace to this country! $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill!!! This makes me so very sad for our citizens and hard-working Americans!!

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Bob January 14 2014 at 9:10 AM

what about empolyment ? does any body know

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houndme13 January 14 2014 at 3:13 AM


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1 reply
Alan houndme13 January 14 2014 at 3:52 AM

Let's keep it simple. Is there a $1.1+ trillion stream of taxes to match that $1.1 trillion in spending? If not, we have passed the bills on to our heirs to pay tomorrow for our largesse today. Shame on us. houndme13 is correct. As a kid I was taught and I learned if I could not afford something --- I had 2 choices --- 1, Learn to live without it. or 2, Find the way to EARN IT. Honest Congress & BHO, it really is that simple.

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call2martin January 14 2014 at 3:15 AM

War funding? Don't they mean save massive jobs manufacturing armaments that will never be needed in the next war, if there is one. Large scale ground wars are a thing of the past as are the equipment needed to fight them. Our representatives of both parties faciliated a war in Iraq that is no proving to be a total waste of lives (dead and injured). The country is now dissolving into sectarian violence with alQueda the probable winner. Before a U S soldier stepped across the Iraq border there was no alQueda in Iraq. We were sold a bill of goods by Cheney, Wolfowitz and the other war mongering hawks that Iraq was behind 911. We had a weak president in regard to foreign policy knowledge and he bought their bill of goods. Blatant lies to create a reason for that war. We spent billions on Iraq infrascruture that could have been well spent here at home. The Russians couldn't tame Afghanastan, yet we followed them in more dollars and lives ruined. Assuredly alQueda will eventually bounce out Karzai and his corrupt bunch and take over the country. Just as in Vietnam, now our friends... 20-30 years from now alQueda will fall into that same category as they take over more countries. How do we elect intelligent people who then become fools once in office. Beyond understanding!

Instead of fighting to better the United States and our people these elected officials fight amongst themselves to the detriment of the general public. This country has the wealth to feed all our people, provide college educations to those who choose to attend or trade schools for others. Yet our students leave school with massive debt while we flitter awayu money in foreign aid to unappreciative governments.. Will we ever wake up and see how the world uses us as their banker. Loaning billions of dollars to various countries, then years down the road the loans are forgiven, no one writes about this and our citizens are left in the dark about the this very obvious scam.

Farm subsidies going to huge agricultural corporations that don't need the money... and we cut off funds to people on welfare, food stamps for the impoverished.. Is there no empathy left in the hearts of these legislatures. Another corporate giveaway, the oil depletion allowance.. These corporations are receiving government welfare under a fancy name. They then donate their profits to elect officials to keep the one way gravy train.

Here is the biggest joke of all...the Koch Bros and Sheldon Adelson spend millions to keep Obama from achieving his goals .. They cleaned up since 2008 under the presidents financial policies. Their stock holdings have increased by the billions in this time. They then spend huge sums, sums the president has provided to them via his policies to defeat his programs. Total joke!

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dmacfawn January 14 2014 at 3:16 AM

What happened with the Child Care Food Program funding?

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