Congress avoided another shutdown of the government today by passing a spending bill that President Obama has said he will sign. The bill represents one of the most ambitious legislative packages in years. The bill includes spending of $1.15 trillion as well as $620 billion in tax breaks for businesses and low-income workers.
The passage of the bill was a win for Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The measure passed the House by a vote of 316 to 113. The Senate passed the bill on a 65-33 vote. President Obama said he wanted “to thank Congress for ending the year on a high note.” Among other things the bill lifts the decades-long ban on U.S. crude oil exports and imposes new U.S. visa restrictions for some foreigners who have visited countries with links to terrorism. The bill also the includes provisions that will provide health and compensation benefits to first responders from 9/11 as well as victims and their families.
Congressional Democrats had concerns about lifting the ban on exporting oil in the bill and the lack of a bankruptcy provision in the bill to help fiscally stressed Puerto Rico. Some Republicans had concerns about the bill as well, including the absence of any restrictions on Syrian immigrants.