News

15 Important Measures Buried In The 2,000-Page Omnibus Bill

The bill includes funding for big-ticket items like pay raises for troops and border security

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on March 20, 2018. Lawmakers are moving forward with a massive omnibus spending bill.

It is a Tyrannosaurus Rex of a bill. And it’s poised to become law in two days.

At 2,232 pages long, the omnibus appropriations billreleased late Wednesday is nearly too long for members of Congress to read from cover to cover before the scheduled vote Friday.

The bill includes funding for big-ticket items like pay raises for troops and border security. But it also includes funding on programs that have received less attention during the spending debate this week.

Here’s a look at some specific proposals, along with the page number where the items appear in the bill.

Autistic children: A measure called “Kevin and Avonte’s Law” funds grants aimed at education and prevention to stop autistic children from wandering off unsupervised. Pg. 1,937.

Abuse of young athletes: This measure in the bill provides grants aimed at preventing sexual and other abuse of athletes. It encourages education on the issue as well as oversight of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Pg. 1,968.

Animal waste in the air: A measure known as the FARM Act exempts animal waste particles that enter the air from some environmental regulations. Pg. 2,023.

Baseball team owners: The bill contains a one-page provision that would exempt minor league baseball team owners from having to pay their players minimum wage. This could end several players’ lawsuits that are currently underway. Pg. 1,967.

The CLOUD Act: This highly significant cyber measure sets new standards for when a government seeks data held in a location outside of that country. That could affect U.S. citizens’ data that is stored overseas. It’s a complex measure that has strong industry supporters, as well as consumer advocate opponents. Pg. 2,201.

Child worker background checks: Camps and organizations that work with kids, the disabled or other vulnerable populations will have a new background check system that will give them increased access to the F.B.I. fingerprint database. Pg. 1,959.

Fighting wildfires: In a particularly big win for Western states, the omnibus sets aside a fixed pot of money, between $2 billion and $3 billion each year, to address wildfire prevention and disasters. Recent fire efforts had no clear funding source and occasionally were paid for by borrowing from other programs. Pg. 1,780.

Flood Insurance: A win for House Republicans, the bill funds the National Flood Insurance Program through July of this year. That could force a discussion about longer-term reforms. Pg. 684.

Giant building photos: The bill blocks the Capitol architect from using federal funds to create and hang a giant photo or drawing of any Capitol Hill building outside of that building when it’s being renovated. (This was done when the Supreme Court building was renovated.) Pg. 1,077.

Grain glitch (farm) fix: A fix for an unintended problem caused by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the omnibus rewrites a tax benefit that went to farmers who sold goods to cooperatives. Pg. 2,047.

Guns: The bill has three significant measures on guns: 1) The ‘Fix NICS’ measure will push agencies to submit more data to the current background check system; 2) The STOP School Violence Act funds grants for schools to increase security and learn how to identify potential threats; and 3) The bill clarifies that federal dollars can be used to research gun violence, reversing the existing de facto ban on federally funded gun research. Pg. 1,971.

H2B Temporary Workers: This measure allows the secretary of Department of Homeland Security to increase the number of H-2B visas, which allow temporary guest workers into the country. Pg. 1,760.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority: The bill includes the Taylor Force Act, which freezes aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops compensating families of those convicted of terrorism against Israeli or U.S. citizens. Pg. 2,011.

Opioids: Approximately $3.6 billion dollars would go to fight the opioid crisis. Pg. 939.

Workers earning tips: The omnibus blocks a proposed Trump administration rule that would have allowed employers to keep or pool some of the tips earned by servers and other workers. Pg. 2,025.

Lisa Desjardins

 

Share