Let's start with the Affordable Care Act: it will continue to exist, which is enough to make at least a handful of House Speaker John Boehner's caucus revolt. They got their digs in, however, cutting $1 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which Republicans have insisted is used as a "slush fund" to pay for the administration's dastardly efforts to help more people be healthier. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, aka "death panel" is cut by $10 million, because Republicans aren't interested in anything that could reduce health care spending or make it more rational. This falls under the good category because there weren't more cuts.
Falling under the partly good category, disabled veterans and war widows won't have their pensions cut, as the original bipartisan budget agreement required. Other veterans, sorry, you're just going to have to put more skin in the game because someone has to suffer.
Low-income children, however, get a bit of a boost, with $8.6 billion allotted for Head Start, a $1.025 billion increase. That includes $500 million for Early Head Start and $250 million in grants for preschool programs.
Please read below the fold for more of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the omnibus spending bill.
Members of the military will get a 1 percent pay increase. That will partially help them pay for groceries since the food stamps so many military families rely on are being slashed.
There's a lot of stuff in here Democrats have agreed to to keep Republicans on board, and all of it is shit. There are the usual restrictions on federal funding for abortion, but with an added little zing to undermine women's health: Title X family planning funding is being cut by $10 million. Because Republicans care so much about abortion they're taking affordable family planning and health care away from low-income women. But hey, they're increasing abstinence education by $5 million, so there's that.
Federal workers get hit in a variety of ways. They get a 1 percent pay increase, but there might be fewer of them. Homeland Security is being cut by $336 million cut, with most of the reductions at the Transportation Security Administration. It increases, however, funding for outsourcing security and hiring private security screeners. Speaking of contractors, the bill prohibits any funding to require anyone bidding for federal contracts to disclose their political contributions. Because the graft must be kept secret. Additionally the bill prohibits the Postal Service from trying to save money and jobs by ending Saturday service or closing its smallest offices.
Because of BENGHAZI!!!!!, federal spending on security for U.S. embassies is being cut by $224 million. No, not because of Benghazi, obviously, but because Republicans are hypocritical fucks. They've also insisted that no money be spent on the plan first hatched by the Bush administration to consolidate the U.S. embassy to the Vatican with the already and very nearby Rome embassy. Take that, W. The bill also prohibits funding for transferring prisoners out of Guantanamo, and prohibits funding for modifying any facility that might potentially house these detainees.
In another dig at the Bush administration (how short are their memories?) and its plans for energy efficiency, we of course have light bulbs, or I should say "light bulbs" because they really do put it in quotation marks: "A prohibition on funding for the Administration’s onerous 'light bulb' standard, which prevents incandescent bulbs from being manufactured or sold, despite a continued public desire for these products."
And because they truly can get even more petty, they defund ACORN—the organization that has not existed since 2010—four times in this single bill. Oh, and they also prohibit Vice President Joe Biden and other "senior political appointees" from getting a pay raise. Did I say petty?
And, of course war funding will be about $92 billion, even more than President Obama requested. And, "the bill largely fulfills the Pentagon's request for ships, aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other war-fighting equipment, including 29 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eight new warships as requested by the Navy, and a variety of other aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, new and improved F-18 fighters and new Army helicopters." Yay, us.