Inside the 2,232 page spending bill

  • 23 March 2018
  • NormanL
Some light reading

Congressional leaders reached a deal on a $1.3 trillion spending package. The 2,232 page monster is what's called a "christmas tree" bill -- everyone gets to hang an ornament on it. The problem is Congress needs to approve the measure by the weekend to avoid a government shutdown. While we're sure some members love reading, it is highly unlikely any of them will be able to plow through the bill before they are required to cast their vote.

That said, what are some of the details hiding inside all that paper? From the Wall Street Journal, we get these nuggets of information:

The bill ends—for now—one of the most contentious fights between Democrats and Mr. Trump, by including $1.57 billion for construction of physical barriers on the border with Mexico and other security measures. Mr. Trump won funding for 33 miles of new fencing on the Texas border—about half of what he requested. He also got funding for 60 miles of replacement or secondary fencing, which is built alongside existing barriers. That is more than he asked for but is also far less controversial.

And this:

The spending bill included some of the first legislative steps to rein in gun violence, after a string of recent mass shootings. The legislation includes a measure from Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) to strengthen compliance with the national background check system for buying firearms. The bill would also end what gun-control advocates say has effectively been a ban on federal gun-violence research.

Those two changes “would be a very big deal, especially in the context of a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican White House,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.).

There are more highlights here, including one we are very pleased to see:

The bill mandates that reports published by Congress’s in-house researchers [the Congressional Research Service] be published online for public consumption. Historically, such reports have not been easy to access online, and a House Appropriations subcommittee took the lead last year in finally forcing transparency.

We have linked to CRS reports in the past. Those have been collected by outside groups and made public. Skipping the middleman, and bringing the research you pay for within easy reach, is a good thing.