WASHINGTON – Congress on Monday passed a measure of $ 1.4 trillion of government spending, including $ 900 billion in coronovirus relief, but filled with a massive year-end bill after inactivity for several months.
The 5,593-page bill lays the government through September 2021 and provides a $ 600 incentive check for eligible families and individuals, increasing unemployment and support for small businesses. It also touches Smokey the Bear, horse racing and the Dalai Lama.
Some of these bizarre provisions were bills that were introduced in Congress earlier in the year. But lawmakers often delay passing bills until the end of the year when they can be rolled into a mass spending bill as members pressure to fund the government before going home for the holidays .
Republican strategist Doug Hay said, “It’s the end of the year, everything gets dumped and is the best way to pass. It highlights how hard it is to get anything done.”
“But when you come to the point – this bill was not written, it was originally complied with. You are taking things that have passed from one chamber or another and putting them all So there is enough support in that. “
The final text of the bill was not released until shortly before the vote, making it impossible for lawmakers to be familiar with the entirety of the people who voted.
“Members of Congress have not read this bill. It is over 5000 pages, came at 2 o’clock this afternoon, and we expect a vote on it in 2 hours. It is not a rule. It is hostage,” Rape Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DNY, Tweeted.
Here are some provisions that have included it in the bill, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump in the coming days.
Surprising medical billing protection
Spending bills include bipartisan language that prevents Americans from the most surprising medical bills, a practice that costs consumers millions of dollars a year and sends some into spiraling debt.
Surprising billing occurs when, during hospitalization, an out-of-network provider is unexpectedly involved in a patient’s care, which is usually higher than the fee the health care plan covers. Under the rules, health care providers will have to work with insurance companies to compromise on price.
This change will come into force in 2022. This rule does not apply to fees for ground ambulances.
The bill contains a clause that affirms the rights of Tibetans to choose the successor of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and states that the Chinese government should not interfere in the process.
Economic and visa restrictions will be imposed against Chinese officials interfering with the Dalai Lama’s succession.
“Smokey beer” is no longer a crime
The bill contains some odd offenses that are rarely enforced, including a law that makes it a crime to misuse certain symbols, such as the “Smokey Bear” and “Woody Owl” characters of the US Forest Service Is the Golden Eagle insignia of the Interior Department, the 4-H Club emblem and the Swiss Confederate coat of arms.
Although those who use those symbols will no longer face jail time, they may still be subject to civil lawsuits.
People transporting hyacinth, crocodile grass or water chestnut plants on the lines of the state will no longer be sentenced to jail for up to six months.
The bill limits the use of a powerful greenhouse gas in refrigerants and air conditioners and provides tax incentives for wind and solar power. The bill also allocates funds for new research and development programs aimed at tackling climate change.
It is the most significant federal investment in green technology in a decade.
Horse race safety
Kentucky Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is one of the most famous horse racetracks in the world, pushed for the provision to include national drug and safety standards for the horse racing industry as well as anti-doping and racetracks Will build Security program.
The horse racing industry has been of concern in recent years that drug and doping was leading to the breakdown and deaths of race horses.
Two new Smithsonian Museums
Washington may have two new museums to come to Washington City for a spending bill: the National Museum of Women’s History and the American Museum.
Sen. Mike-R-Utah earlier this month blocked legislation that would set up museums, stating that “the last need is to keep a previously divided nation of separate but equally identified groups” Split up within a collection. “
Illegal streaming becomes a felony
It could soon be a felony for businesses to illegally streaming large amounts of copyrighted content by illegally shutting it down and keeping it in jail for 10 years.
The bill is not intended to target people who use illegal streaming services, but rather those who use pirated content to make money.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R.N.C., who first introduced the bill, has said that the cost to the pirate industry is about $ 30 billion every year in the American economy.
The group Fight for Our Future, which opposes internet restrictions, also pointed to a provision in the bill that says the federal government will pay people a $ 30,000 fine for sharing memes with copyrighted images .
The group’s executive director said “common internet users will be threatened with heavy fines for everyday online activity.”
The US Postal Service – already facing criticisms for handling electoral ballots and holiday packages – will no longer be allowed to mail vaping products and e-cigarettes under the new bill.
Border wall funding continues
Roughly $ 1.3 billion will be allocated to build Trump’s southern border wall, the same amount that was given to the project last year.
Lawmakers have enacted laws in the past over disagreements over border wall funding, leading to the government shutdown in 2018.