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Congress Sends $1.8 Trillion Tax And Spending Bill To President Obama

The federal government is slated to be funded until Sept. 30, 2016, after the Senate approved a $1.1 trillion funding bill that's paired with nearly $700 billion in tax breaks. The package is on its way to President Obama's desk for his signature.

The Senate adopted the Omnibus Appropriations Act by a vote of 65-33; the House did so by a 316-113 tally.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports:

"On the very last day before lawmakers in both chambers scatter for the holidays, Congress cleared these must-pass bills. The spending bill not only prevents a government shutdown until next fall, but it also contains a few policy provisions.

"It strengthens cybersecurity programs, renews the health care program for 9/11 responders, and it ends a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.

"The spending bill also makes changes to the visa waiver program. Now people who've traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria in the last five years will face higher scrutiny if they wish to enter the U.S.

"Hardline conservatives lost their fight to include language in the bill pausing the Syrian refugee resettlement program."

Speaking just before the Senate's final vote on the bill, Appropriations Committee vice chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., invoked Star Wars.

"This is a bill that protects America, rebuilds it, and invests in the future," she said. "I think it's a great bill, it's a result of bipartisan effort. Let's vote for it, and may the Force be with us."

The short speech led C-SPAN to dub the senator "Jedi Mikulski."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

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