Speed Reads

hey big spender

The 4 most controversial provisions of the bipartisan $1.4 trillion spending package

The $1.37 trillion price tag on a package of spending bills expected to sail through Congress to President Trump's desk this week isn't all that controversial in Washington. There's plenty for everyone to love — and hate — among the $738 billion in military funding and $632 billion in non-military appropriations that will keep the federal government running though Oct. 1, 2020.

But along with its 12 must-pass annual appropriations bills, the 2,313-page spending package carries "an unusually large load of unrelated provisions catching a ride on the last train out of Congress this year," The Associated Press reports. Here are 4 of the most notable ones:

1. Youth smoking: The legislation raises the smoking age to 21, from 18, for both traditional tobacco products and vaping devices. The FDA will have six months to come up with regulations and three more years to work with states to enact them.

2. Gun-violence research: Democrats won $25 million for research into gun violence, breaking a two-decade de facto ban championed by the gun lobby. The National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would each get $12.5 million to track gun-related deaths and injuries, along with other research. "Scientific reports show that a lack of data on gun violence has delayed pivotal reforms despite persistent mass shootings," Axios reports. Democrats laid the groundwork last year.

3. Trump's wall: The package maintains a steady $1.37 billion for new barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, short of the $8.6 billion Trump had requested for his wall but with fewer strings and no language barring him from siphoning off money from other accounts. The bill does not backfill $3.6 billion in military construction funds Trump raided for his border wall and mostly flat-lines the budges of the two main border enforcement agencies.

4. ObamaCare taxes: Three taxes Democrats had enacted to help finance the Affordable Care Act get the ax, making official successive temporary suspensions of the "Cadillac" tax on expensive health plans, 2.3 percent tax on medical devices, and roughly 2.5 percent levy on health insurance premiums. "Democrats put a bunch of funding mechanisms in ObamaCare to keep the deficit down, only to get torched by Republicans" and "hounded by industry," explains Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur. "One lesson that some Democrats will take from the ObamaCare experience is that paying for programs brings you a world of political pain, whereas throwing them on the national credit card (à la Medicare Part D) is safe."