Tags: budget | spending | 2014 | omnibus

New Federal Budget Costs Taxpayers $3 million Per Word

Friday, 17 Jan 2014 02:57 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill for 2014 is finally on its way to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature after passing the Senate on Thursday.

The measure, which averts the threat of another government shutdown this year, was contained in a 1,582-page document that will cover government costs through Sept. 30.

What follows is a breakdown of the major points of the spending bill compiled from the Associated Press and reports from The Washington Post, CBS News, and other media outlets. The bill, which the AP reports will cost taxpayers about $3 million per word or nearly $700 million per page, also contains some examples of what the new budget specifically denies.

Obamacare — President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy will get most of the funding it requires, including $3.7 billion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the program. But the bipartisan bill cuts $1 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, preventing the money ultimately being used to fund improvements in the federal HealthCare.gov insurance.

Defense — The omnibus measure gives $487 billion to the Defense Department, including a one percent raise for U.S. military personnel. The raise also includes federal civilian workers. But it slashes expenditures on operations and maintenance to $160 billion, a cutback of $14 billion. The costs includes $92 billion for military operations overseas, mostly in Afghanistan. But there is a provision for $157 million for a new Sexual Assault and Prevention Office. The bill also approves funding for a maximum of 1,361,400 active-duty troops and 833,700 reservists.

Military Retirees — The cost-of-living benefit cutbacks for working age military retirees in the original budget bill put forward in Congress remains for the time being. But the new spending bill now exempts wounded or disabled military personnel from any cuts.

Immigration — The package has allotted $2.8 billion for detention programs run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which includes 34,000 beds for potentially illegal immigrants. It also contains $114 million to pay for the E-Verify plan, which companies use to check the immigration status of job applicants.

Border Protection — The bipartisan agreement gives $10.6 billion to Custom and Border Protection to keep U.S. borders safe, around $220 million less than last year. The sum includes $128 million to cover expansion plans for the hectic crossing point between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

Airport Security The Transportation Security Administration has had its budget trimmed by $200 million to $4.9 billion, which will pay for a maximum of 46,000 airport screeners increase the agency's ability to fund private security contractors.

Transportation — The Federal Aviation Authority receives $12.4 billion, almost $200 million less than last year, to pay for air traffic controllers and safety inspectors. But President Obama was given no new funds to aid his high-speed rail initiative for projects in California and along the Northeast.

Abortion — The bill again prohibits government funds from being used for abortions in most cases, including inmates in federal prisons, while also specifically barring public money for abortions in the District of Columbia. The use of foreign aid for to pay for abortion services overseas is also barred.

Guantanamo — The legislation prohibits the transfer of terrorism detainees from the American naval prison in Cuba to facilities in the U.S., while also banning public funds from being spent to modify facilities in the U.S. to house detainees. The lack of funding, effectively ends plans to build a detention site in Illinois.

Environment — The Environmental Protection Agency has been handed $8.2 billion this year, close to the figure the EPA operated on in 2013. Republicans were not able to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, but the omnibus included a section exempting "livestock producers" from certain greenhouse gas controls. Funding was also cut for agency's phase-out program for old-style incandescent bulbs.

Diplomatic Security — The amount of money allowed for embassy security abroad, reported to be $5.4 billion, is $224 million less than the fiscal 2013, despite the controversy surrounding the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Washington Post. But the bill prevents the State Department from shutting down its mission in the Vatican and folding it into the larger U.S. Embassy in Rome due to security concerns.

Foreign Aid — The agreement specifically states that there will be no foreign aid for Libya until Secretary of State John Kerry receives cooperation from the Libyan government on the continuing investigations into the September 2012 attack in Benghazi. The budget also cuts $1.1 billion for assistance to Afghanistan, while committing $3.1 billion in aid to Israel.

Law Enforcement — The FBI gets an increase in its budget to $8 billion, with a special provision for $128 million in funds, nearly twice the previous fiscal year, to cover background checks on potential gun buyers. There were also increases for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Internal Revenue Service — The IRS will get $11.3 billion, about $500 million less than last year. The agency was denied additional funding help enforce the new healthcare law, which carries tax penalties for those who refuse to get insurance coverage. In a nod to last year's IRS targeting scandal involving conservative groups, the budget bans the agency from specifically focusing on groups based purely on their political affiliations or ideologies.

Postal Service — Although the Postal Service is losing billions every year, language contained in the budget specifically prevents an end to Saturday mail delivery or the shuttering of remote post offices.

Education — Although the package included an additional $500 million to pay for 6,000 new special education workers, Obama lost out on his hopes of having new funds for preschool programs and grants to help students who cannot afford costly college tuitions. But $8.6 billion was stipulated for the Head Start program, $1 billion more than 2013.

Congress — Lawmakers also gave themselves $4.3 billion this year for House and Senate operations, a cut of some $200 million. At the same time, however they cut the administrative budgets for Cabinet-level offices, including banning the use of public funding to pay for official portraits of Cabinet members.

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