The 114th Congress is set to end on a familiar note, with House and Senate leaders working to finish a large spending package carrying many extraneous riders before the final day of the session.
While far from the massive omnibus appropriations package lawmakers had hoped to push through, the must-pass government-funding bill that the House and Senate want as the last item of business still provides a large portion of the $1.070 trillion called for this year, plus extra money for the Pentagon, State Department, disaster aid and more.
Tucked into that measure is an extra $5.8 billion to cover the Pentagon’s war costs and $4.3 billion for State’s counterterrorism activities. Another $4.1 billion is provided for states damaged by flooding and storms, including Hurricane Matthew.
New York City won $7 million to help it cover the costs of protecting President-elect Donald Trump while he remains in Trump Tower. However, that’s far less than the $35 million the city said it needs.
Other winners in the year-end spending package include defense contractors. Some $773.1 million is provided for procurement in advance of materials for the new ballistic missile submarine under contract to General Dynamics Corp., and other provisions allow for a multiyear contract for Apache helicopters developed by Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Black Hawks.
But retired miners and their widows didn’t fare as well in the bill. A provision extends their health benefits only until the end of April rather than the five years Democrats wanted. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he’d work to hold up the measure in order to force a better deal for retirees, whose benefits are due to run out at year’s end.
"I can’t work through the inhumane treatment to the people who’ve given so much to this country, and the promise we have, and the commitment,” Manchin said. "And now we’re just going to screw them royally."
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