Speed Reads

coronavirus relief

5 surprising things tucked into Congress' nearly 6,000-page spending bill

The most significant aspect of Congress' omnibus spending bill is the $900 coronavirus relief package embedded within it, but there are a few surprising add-ons — as there usually are in such legislation — tucked into the nearly 6,000-paged text.

One item that snuck in there was the proposed creation of two new Smithsonian museums, one focused on women's history, and the other for the proposed "National Museum of the American Latino." Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had previously blocked standalone bills that would have funded them.

The package also contains proposed legislation that would change how drugs are regulated in horseracing, a murder hornet eradication program, and a continued ban on federal funding for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an organization that hasn't existed for years. That language has apparently appeared quite frequently in bills over the last few years, and some Republican lawmakers reportedly think it may just keep getting copy-and-pasted by aides.

The sovereignty of Tibet, Taiwan, and Hong Kong also received frequent mentions, which, in other words, means the bill includes language hinting at opposition to potential Chinese encroachment on those places. One item that's been garnering a lot of attention concerns the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. Several observers pointed out that while that may seem unnecessary or even silly at first glance, especially because it seems out of place in a bill primarily focused on pandemic relief, it actually addresses a significant geopolitical issue. Tim O'Donnell