Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Congress proposes trillion-dollar 2014 federal spending bill

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Paul Ryan,PennAve,Guantanamo Bay,Budgets and Deficits,Patty Murray

House and Senate negotiators late Monday unveiled legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year with just days to spare before a temporary spending bill expires.

And the legislation would aim to stop the Obama administration from enforcing energy standards that have all but banned incandescent light bulbs.

The $1.012 trillion bill adheres to the budget deal agreed upon in December by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. and will likely pass both the House and Senate with ease this week.

The bill comes after months of wrangling over government spending and efforts by Republicans to defund the health insurance reform law known as Obamacare. The battle brought the government to a standstill for 16 days in October when he two sides could not agree on a bill to fund the federal government.

The fight now seems to be officially over, at least for this fiscal year.

“As with any compromise, not everyone will like everything in this bill, but in this divided government, a critical bill such as this simply cannot reflect the wants of only one party," bipartisan negotiators said in a joint statement. "We believe this is a good, workable measure that will serve the American people well, and we encourage all our colleagues to support it this week.”

The legislation includes many provisions not directly related to the annual funding of the government, including a pay freeze for the vice president and "senior political appointees," a ban on transferring or releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners in the United States and a provision to end the prohibition of incandescent light bulbs, among other provisions.

Incandescent bulbs of 100, 75, 60 and 40 watts have been mostly phased out under the Obama administration thanks to 2007 legislation passed when Democrats were in the majority in both the House and Senate and the party aimed to increase energy efficiency. Critics say the incandescent bulbs are more affordable than LED bulbs and less dangerous than the mercury-laden compact fluorescent bulbs, which require special disposal.

The spending bill does not repeal the 2007 law, but does not allow any funding to go toward enforcement of the energy efficiency standards.

The legislation also takes a jab at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., by including funding for a safety review of Nevada's Yucca Mountain to help assess whether it can be used as a nuclear waste dump. Reid has fought vigorously for many years to keep Yucca from becoming a nuclear waste site.

Aside from some provisions that are sure to irk each party, though, the bill is mostly a compromise.

It restores some $63 billion in spending cuts mandated under the 2011 budget control act now commonly referred to as the sequester, and reverses a $6 billion cut to the cost of living increases slated to hit military pensions. The legislation does not include provisions to limit, delay or repeal the Affordable Care Act, although it does not provide any new funding for the law.

The legislation includes defense spending caps that amount to $520.5 billion, far more than $498 billion cap on defense spending that would have been required if the sequester reductions had not been halted. Domestic spending was capped at $491.7 billion.

The House is expected to take up the bill on Wednesday and the Senate will likely consider it later in the week. A temporary spending measure expires on Jan. 15, so if the Senate doesn't clear the bill by then, Congress may have to pass a half-week extension of the current spending bill the government is operating under.

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