Good news. A short-term spending bill is in place to keep Uncle Sam's agencies running.
Better news. The money will be in place through midnight April 28, 2017, meaning that the upcoming main tax-filing season (set to kick off Jan. 23, 2017) won't be hampered by a government shutdown.
The House on Thursday, Dec. 8, approved the spending package by a 326-96 vote. However, a handful of Democratic Senators slowed the process in an effort to obtain permanent health care coverage for retired coal miners. The delay also raised the specter of yet another federal government shutdown.
The Upper Chamber lawmakers grudgingly relented, with the final 63-36 Senate vote on Friday, Dec. 9, coming less than an hour before the midnight federal closure deadline. President Obama quickly signed the measure into law.
The last-minute U.S. Senate vote keeping federal offices open for a few more months -- and 10 days beyond the April 18, 2017, tax-filing deadline -- is this week's By the Numbers figure.
Funding highlights, future fiscal fights: This latest stop-gap spending measure keeps the government funded at current levels.
But it also means that Capitol Hill Republicans, who in 2017 will take control of the White House and both Congressional chambers next year, will have more say next spring over how much of the $1 trillion that federal agencies and programs will get.
In addition to $45 million for continued health care benefits for certain retired miners under the United Mine Workers Association 1993 Benefit Plan, the just-enacted continuing resolution also includes:
- $10 billion for Overseas Contingency Funding, which the Pentagon uses to pay for continuing war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- $4.1 billion for disaster relief, including recovery efforts related to Hurricane Matthew.
- $255 million for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.
- $170 million for infrastructure improvements and preventive care against lead poisoning for mothers and children in Flint, Michigan.
- $500 million for states to combat the opioid abuse epidemic.
- $1.8 billion for Vice President Joe Biden's "moon shot" cancer research initiative, which the veep dedicated to the memory of his late son Beau who died in 2015 of brain cancer.
The best news for taxpayers, however, comes from a provision in the 4½-month funding patch that doesn't involve additional dollars.
It keeps in place a seven-year freeze on members of Congress' pay at $174,000 per year.
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