Ryan Gets It Done: Congress Ends Year With Passage of Major Spending Bill

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December 18, 2015 9:55 a.m.
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Post updated at 12:09 p.m. ET.

Congress easily passed the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package Friday that will fund the government through most of 2016.

The House passed the omnibus as a standalone bill by a vote of 316 to 113. Soon after, the Senate passed the omnibus and the tax extenders package by a vote of 65 to 33.

President Obama is certain to sign the bill before the current funding extension runs out Dec. 22, bringing an end to budget brinksmanship for this fiscal year.

Republican presidential contenders Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul(R-KY) voted against the bill. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was absent.

The legislation was House Speaker Paul Ryan’s heaviest lift yet as the former Ways and Means Chairman scrambled in his first six weeks as speaker to whip up enough support on his side to pass a $680 billion tax package and now a standalone omnibus. Through the negotiations, Republicans scored a few significant wins including lifting the 40-year-long ban on crude oil exports.

The more than 2,000-page bill is also chock full of other riders including increasing security checks in the country’s visa waiver program and repealing labeling standards on beef and pork coming outside of the U.S.

Ryan managed to get an impressive 150 Republicans -a majority of the majority- onboard, and Democrats got Ryan to the end. While Ryan had managed not to infuriate the conservatives in his party through the last-minute appropriations process. Not all voted for the package, but Ryan still earned a strong vote.

Democratic leadership–knowing all the while they were key to the bill’s final passage–managed to secure their own major wins in the legislation mainly keeping out poison pill riders like defunding Planned Parenthood or making it harder for refugees to come to the United States. Democrats also got a provision to secure additional health care coverage for 9/11 first responders.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi scrambled in the final hours to secure a promise from Ryan that the House would address the debt crisis in Puerto Rico in 2016. There were some progressives who threatened to vote against the omnibus bill because it did not include a provision to address Puerto Rico.

“Until late last night we were still working to provide urgent relief to Puerto Rico. As you may be aware, the Speaker has agreed to take action on restructuring legislation by March 31, 2016, and last evening, he committed to start that process with a hearing on our first day back in January,” Pelosi wrote in a dear colleagues letter.

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