Surprises tucked in Senate debt bill

The Hill

The legislation released by the Senate late Wednesday to reopen the  government contains several surprises.
The bill includes extra funds to  fix flooded roads in Colorado, a $3 million appropriation for a civil liberties  oversight board and a one-time payment to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg  (D-N.J.), who died over the summer.

It also includes an increase in authorization for spending on construction on  the lower Ohio River in Illinois and Kentucky. The bill increases it to $2.918  billion.
The Senate  Conservatives Fund quickly called that language the “Kentucky Kickback,”  and said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) secured that as the  price of his support for the bill. Taxpayers for Common Sense says the bill  would increase total authorized spending by $1.2 billion.

Senate staffers  were still scrambling to piece the bill together for votes in the House and  Senate Wednesday night. Lawmakers hope to get it to President Obama’s desk  before Thursday’s deadline for raising the debt ceiling.
A draft of the  bill began circulating in the early evening, and a final  version was released by Senate Democratic staff just before 6 p.m. 

The legislation also includes specific language that aims to pay back  furloughed federal government workers as soon as is practicable.
Section  115 of the text says government workers who are furloughed because of the  shutdown “shall be compensated at their standard rate of compensation, for the  period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable after such lapse  in appropriations.”

Section 116 says states that funded a federal program will be compensated as  well, and that the government will pay back states for these costs.


The legislation broadly re-opens the  government through Jan. 15, and extends the ability of the government to borrow  money through Feb. 7. It does so by allowing President Obama to waive the debt  ceiling, a move that can be overridden by a resolution of disapproval by  Congress that Obama could still veto.
The Senate bill uses H.R. 2775 as a  vehicle for all of these changes. That bill was originally a House GOP bill that  would have delayed all health insurance subsidies until a system is put in place  to verify incomes for eligibility purposes.
The Senate language does give  that issue a nod, by including new rules for verifying household income to  determine eligibility for subsidies to buy health insurance under ObamaCare. It  specifically requires the government to “certify to the Congress that the  Exchanges verify such eligibility.”
The secretary of Health and Human  Services would have to submit a report to Congress detailing procedures used by  the exchanges, and an inspector general report would be required by July  1.
Elsewhere, the bill allows the Department of Transportation to spend  up to $450 million to fund the repair of Colorado roads that were damaged by  floods. In September, the House passed a bill allowing the department to spend  more than the $100 million cap on Colorado roads.


The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board would get $3.1 million  under  the bill. The board was set up in 2004 to ensure privacy concerns  are addressed  as laws and regulations are issued related to fighting  terrorist threats  against the country.

Lawmakers and President Obama have sought to jumpstart the board in the wake  of the revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
Another  part of the bill, Section 148, holds that no adjustment shall be made related to  a cost of living adjustment for members of Congress in fiscal  2014.
Finally, and as expected, it contains language requiring a payment  of $174,000 to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who died in June at  age 89. 

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3 thoughts on “Surprises tucked in Senate debt bill

  1. So, the Democraps can truly say that the GOP caused it to be more expensive. That’s probably part of the plan so they can NOT pass it and continue the “fight” until we default and o’bama can move “onward” to ruining the USA financially.

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