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A Quick Look at the New Spending Bill


Written By: Brenda (B.K.) Walker

December 2014

While many Americans were rushing to finish their 2014 Christmas shopping list purchases, elected officials were pounding out a spending bill that would keep the government up and running—at least for a while. Considering the overwhelming lack of accomplishment delivered by these elected officials throughout the last several years, the idea that they managed to come together and agree on something, let-alone a budget, may not necessarily be a good thing—only time will tell.

The Washington Post took the time to line-out a few key portions of the $1 trillion spending bill that it believes are likely to have "the more notable and controversial elements." This is how the spending budget looked when the article was written on December 10, 2014—changes most likely have occurred, in some instances.

  • Government, Benefits, Pay, and other related Topics
    • U.S. Capitol (And other Related Agencies)-$21 million for restoration of the Capitol Dome; $348 million for the U.S. Capitol Police
    • White House Budget-$222 million for operations of the executive mansion (National Security and Homeland Security Council, Council for Economic Advisers, the Vice President's office, and the executive residence)
    • Federal Worker Pay (And Conferences)-1% pay increase takes effect in January
    • Joe Biden-Freezes the pay for the Vice President "and senior political appointees"
    • Pensions-Looks to make some deep cuts to certain retirement pension programs in industries such as trucking, construction, and supermarkets
    • Immigration-$948 million for the Department of Health and Human Services unaccompanied children program; $14 million to school districts for new immigrant students; and $260 million for the State Department to assist Central American countries where the children came from

 

Related Article of Interest: Trillions of American Dollars Hidden Overseas

 

    • IRS-Budget reduced by $345.6 million and can't "target" groups applying for tax-exempt status "based on their ideological beliefs."
    • Official Portraits-Tax-payers will no longer be footing the bill for portraits
    • U.S. Postal Service-Americans will continue to receive Saturday mail services
    • Campaign Finance-More money can be donated to national parties—10 times more
    • Dodd-Frank-"...reverse Dodd-Frank requirements that banks 'push out' some of derivatives trading into separate entities not backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations. [...] Democrats secured more money for the enforcement budgets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission."
    • National Museum of African American History-$24 million toward building the new museum
    • Whistle Blowers-Changed the language "ensuring that government contractors are not barred from reporting allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse if they sign a confidentiality agreement." Increases the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's budget $500,000 for enforcement of whistleblower laws

 

Related Article: We Don't Want to Spoil the Holiday Financial Good Cheer

 

  • Military
    • Military Pay and Perks-1% pay increase for military service members with the exception of generals and flag offers who will receive no pay increase. Military exchanges can no longer offer a 5% discount on tobacco and related products
    • Veterans-$159.1 billion "in discretionary and mandatory spending." This includes $209 million for new costs associated with the veteran's reform bill; and $5 million budget increase for the VA's inspector general in continued investigation of the delays in patient care
    • Sexual Assault in the Military-$257 million for the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs
    • Overseas Military Operations-$1.3 billion for Counterterrorism Partnership Fund; $5 billion to combat the Islamic State; $500 million to equip and train Syrian oppositions fighters (Pentagon-led program); $810 million for military operations in Europe

 

Related Article: Proposed Increase in Pay for VA Physicians and Dentists

 

  • Health Issues, Food Assistance, and Education, and other related Organizations
    • Abortion-Continues the ban on using federal funds to perform abortions, including for federal prisoners, as well as using local and/or federal funds for abortions in the District of Columbia. It also calls for oversight by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, ensuring clear view of whether a health plan covers abortion when consumers utilize the federal exchange when shopping for health insurance.
    • Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)-Cut $10 million of the Independent Payment Advisory Board's budget; no new money added for funding the program, including financial assistance for the two agency most responsible for overseeing the law—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the IRS.
    • Centers for Disease Control-Receives $6.9 billion in funding with an additional $30 million to fight Ebola
    • Ebola-Several agencies will share in $5.4 billion to fight Ebola
    • Eric Cantor-$12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act for pediatric research (funding was pulled from the "federal funding for political conventions"
    • Food Safety (FDA)-$2.589 billion for the FDA; $27 million for the Food Safety Modernization Act; and $1.016 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service
    • National Institutes for Health-$30.3 billion for research including for brain research and Alzheimer's
    • Potatoes-The budget for the Women's Infants and Children program was cut by $93 million, leaving a budget of $6.6 billion for the program. White potatoes will now be included among the foods that are eligible for purchase under the assistance program
    • School Lunch Program-Schools demonstrating hardship have more leeway in implementing whole grain nutrition standards and loosens sodium standards for school lunch programs
    • Raise to the Top-$70.5 billion to the Education Department; $11.5 billion for state education grants; no funding for Common Core State Standards
  • Drugs and Narcotics
    • Marijuana-Although the bill prohibits the District of Columbia from legalizing marijuana, itwould "block the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical marijuana measures and prohibits the Drug Enforcement Agency from interfering with the industrial hemp production."
    • Heroin-An additional $7 million "for a new anti-heroin task force run out of the Justice Department's COPS Office"
  • Environment
    • Environmental Protection Agency-Reduced budget to $8.1 billion, requiring the agency to reducing staffing levels to those lower than in 1989
    • Clean Water Act-The Environmental Protection Agency can no longer require specific irrigation ditches and farm ponds to comply with the Act
    • Light Bulbs-"prohibits new standards that would ban the use of cheaper, less energy efficient incandescent bulbs"
    • Sage-Grouse-The Fish and Wildlife Services can't add the gird to the Endangered Species List, but the Bureau of Land Management gets $15 million to conserve its habitants
    • Wolves-$1 million to compensate ranchers who lose stock by wolf attacks
    • Yucca Mountain-nothing in the new budget, but any money still in the budget for the site must be spent in accordance to recent court decisions

 

Related Article: Inflation, Deflation, and a Depression...Really?

 

  • Foreign Affairs
    • Embassies-$5.4 billion goes to security for U.S. embassies
    • Guantanamo Bay-No more prisoners can be transferred from the facility to the United States, nor can it purchase or build any facilities in the U.S. to house these prisoners
    • Specific terms must be met before funding is released to assist the Afghan government—implementation of the "bilateral security agreement reached with the United States"
    • United Nations-no money for renovating U.N. Headquarters located in New York
    • Egypt-$1.3 billion in military aid and $150 million in economic aid
    • Israel-"...$3.1 billion in total aid for the country plus $619.8 million in defense aid"
    • Libya-No aid until it is confirmed, "the country is cooperating with ongoing investigations into the September 2012 attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya."
    • Jordon-$1 billion in economic and military aid, plus humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees
    • Palestinian Authority-No funds for Hamas and no assistance if it doesn't have an agreement in place with Israel before becoming members of the United Nations or UN Agencies
  • Transportation/Infrastructure
    • Amtrak-$1.39 billion budgeted
    • Metrorail-$150 million for D.C. region's subway and bus system as part of the $10.9 billion budgeted "for transit programs nationwide."
    • Railroads-$3 million to expand inspections of tracks used to haul oil tankers
    • Trucking-Blocks "new Transportation Department regulations requiring truckers to get two nights sleep before starting a new work week."

Read more of The Washington Post report: What's in the spending bill? We skim it so you don't have to

~~~~~

Other Articles of Interest:

Fulltime RVers: Even Retirees are Hitting the Highway to Earn a Living

The American Dream: This Isn't Your Parent's America

The Sharing Economy: The Information Age Brings Back the "We"

Dazed and Confused-The Marijuana "Green Rush" Grows

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