The Spending Bill

As I write this, Friday December 12th, the US Federal Government is operating under a 48 hour Continuing Resolution. Late Thursday night the House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to cover the rest of the fiscal year but because the Senate also needs time to vote on that bill, the House also passed a two day spending measure to avoid a government shutdown.

Unlike the last time we were in this position, it is now the Democrats holding up the spending bill, with nearly all of them voting against the measure. Why is that? Here is Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace to explain.

Both CNN and The Washington Post have good breakdowns of the details from inside the spending bill if you want to know everything. Here are a couple of highlights.

As was mentioned in Marketplace, campaign finance got a dramatic overhaul. Previously an individual could only donate $32,400 to a political party in a single year, the spending bill increased that limit by one-thousand percent. Why actually try to pass a campaign spending bill, just hide it in the fine print.

Financial regulations were also brought up in Marketplace, this one takes a little more explaining. One of the reasons the government was so worried about bailing out banks back in 2008 was because commercial banks, the kind of banks you and I use, are also investment banks. If risky derivative investments lose money, the banks lose our money. Most people are normally protected because their funds are government insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform from 2010 forced these banks to push most of those risky investments into non-FDIC insured portfolios, making the government less likely to need to step in. Don’t worry, years of negotiating to find a good way to limit the risk of another financial crisis was undone in a last-minute spending measure.

On the military front, $5 billion is being set aside to combat ISIS, but don’t call it a war. Those fighting the war will receive a 1 percent pay increase, lower than the 1.8 percent previously supported by the House. Pay for flag officers is still frozen. Also, the Veterans Administration is getting a little more money with $159 billion wrapped up in the spending bill.

The Marketplace team releases several podcasts every day. From the Marketplace Morning Report to the Tech Update, each show contains several different stories, each only a few minutes long. This particular episode also had a great story on waste in the healthcare system.

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