Obama signs $1.1T omnibus spending bill into law before departing on holiday break

By Amy R. Connolly and Doug G. Ware   |   Updated Dec. 18, 2015 at 8:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Both chambers of Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending measure Friday that includes a change to the Affordable Care Act and keeps the government running through September 2016.

The bill, while bipartisan, has faced conservative criticism for high spending and the omission of language that would put restrictions on Syrian refugees and the women's health provider Planned Parenthood.

The bill passed the Senate 65-33. The measure passed the House on Thursday 316-113, with 150 Republicans and 166 Democrats voting for it.

"This legislation helps our economy, helps our national security, and strikes more blows to a partisan health law that hurts the middle class," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday. "I think its legislation worth supporting."

The legislation made it to President Barack Obama's desk Friday afternoon and he signed it into law.

Included in the omnibus bill is a two-year suspension of the Affordable Care Act's so-called "Cadillac Tax" on high-cost insurance plans.

The delay was supported by Democrats in support of workers' rights but opposed by the Obama administration, which argued the excise tax will keep health care costs down. Despite the opposition, Obama did not veto the entire bill over the matter.

Many Republicans were disappointed because they were not able to secure restrictions on Syrian refugees entering the country or block funding for Planned Parenthood, in the spotlight for allegedly selling aborted fetal tissue.

The bill does include language lifting a decades-old ban on crude oil exports, puts a performance-based scrutiny, on student loan servicers in a move seen as a way to help borrowers repay their debts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the legislation as a bipartisan compromise, despite the expansive nature of the bill.

"The way I look at this is, we have made the best of the situation we have," the Wisconsin Republican said. "There are some really good wins in here for the American people. There are very good wins in here for the economy, for job creators, for taxpayers."

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