What Does the Omnibus Spending Law Mean to Me?

Financial balance logo for Tony Novak web siteIt is not possible to analyze a massive 2,232 page $1.3 Trillion dollar federal law within a matter of hours after its passage. (This is a terrible way to handle major legislation, but that shame on Ryan and crew is a whole different topic). Yet this new federal spending bill is likely to have more impact on the lives and personal finances of most Americans than anything else that happens in government this year. Here are a few key points being reported by major news sources:

  • Military spending is dramatically increased with $144 Billion for new hardware including improved missile defense system. Military personnel will get a 2.4 percent pay raise. Civilian federal employees get a smaller 1.9 percent raise.
  • Doubles the funding for local housing, construction and local infrastructure through the HUD Community Development Block Grant program from$2.8 Billion to $5.2 Billion that shifts control away from the federal government and into state and local neighborhood control.
  • Includes only 6% of the amount Republicans requested to build a border wall and that amount is primarily for prototype research and development for 93 miles of the 3,000 mile border. This is considered a ‘win’ for the majority of Americans who oppose the wall pushed by he president. (This is apparently what set the president into a Twitter rant with a false threat to veto the bill yesterday).
  • Includes 328 additional Customs and Border Protection officers but requires ICE to cut the number of people in detention facilities.
  • Halts Trump administration’s push to allow employers to take employees’ tips and apply them to company-paid wages. This was intended to end non-reporting of tip income.
  • Allows federally funded healthcare to pay for facilities that provide abortions.
  • Includes aid for large agricultural companies to offset financial setbacks created by other Trump trade policies.
  • Includes funding for expansion of low income tax credit.
  • Includes $465 Million funding for Corporation for Public Broadcasting including NPR that Trump wanted to eliminate.
  • Includes funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities that Trump wanted to eliminate.
  • Includes funding to prevent Russian interference in elections including $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission for states to improve their election-related cybersecurity. The FBI gets $300 million to combat Russian hacking through in counterintelligence.
  • Increases funding for state law enforcement agencies to report criminal records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in an attempt to improve gun controls from an administrative approach. For the first time federal funding will be allowed to study gun violence. This is expected to lead to more restrictive gun policy over time.
  • Does not defund programs to ‘sanctuary cities‘. This is important to us here in Philadelphia.
  • Includes funding for the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 that increases grants for security training, metal detectors, stronger locks, emergency notifications, and other provisions meant to improve school safety.
  • Triples the funding for ‘TIGER‘ infrastructure grants to $1.5 Billion that were started under the Obama administration but opposed by Trump.
  • Requires the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to post all of its reports online. This is seen as an important step in government transparency.
  • The Census Bureau gets an additional $1.34 Billion. Their work is expected to more accurately reflect the growth of  non-English speaking populations and eventually the reallocation of resources.
  • Does not include funding to stabilize health insurance markets through the state reinsurance fund.
  • Does not address DACA.
  • Does not include provisions to to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

NPR News said that the spending bill requires all sides to “hold their noses”. A compromise leaves no one happy. Fox News is calling it a huge defeat for the president and Democrats threaten to reverse the massive deficit spending after the fall election.


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