While the headlines involving the agreement approved by the Congress will deal with a temporary budget for Uncle Sam and the extension of the debt limit, there was a lot more to find tucked away in the legislative language of that plan.
The big part of this deal funds the government through January 15; the debt limit would be extended until February 7.
After that, you get into the nitty gritty of the legislative text, where sometimes it takes an interpreter to realize what you are looking for.
The final deal includes:
+ An assurance that federal workers who were furloughed will be paid "as soon as practicable" for their time off
+ The agreement requires the Department of Health and Human Services to send a report to the Congress on verification procedures that make sure people aren't getting subsidies for health insurance that they don't deserve
+ The final plan includes up to $450 million in emergency transportation aid for Colorado in the wake of recent flooding.
+ The Senate deal insures extra money to deploy two new U.S. weather satellite programs
+ The agreement would block any cost of living adjustment (pay raise) for Members of Congress in Fiscal Year 2014
+ The plan includes a $174,000 death benefit payment to the widow of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who died earlier this year
One provision that caught my eye - simply because there was so little information was this:
SEC. 123. Section 3(a)(6) of Public Law 100–676 is amended by striking both occurrences of ‘‘$775,000,000’’ and inserting in lieu thereof, ‘‘$2,918,000,000’’.
And when you dig down into that section, you find a lock and dam project on the Ohio River, part in Illinois and part in Kentucky.
The Kentucky part quickly raised questions, since Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky, as the Senate Conservatives Fund quickly attacked McConnell, labeling the plan, the "Kentucky Kickback."
"In exchange for funding Obamacare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion earmark," the group charged in a press release.
A spokesman for McConnell rejected the attack, saying "it's not our project," and pointing instead at the Office of Management and Budget and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that deals with water projects.
"It did not come from here," the McConnell aide said, an argument that was backed up by a Senate Democratic aide.
One should also note that the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee happens to be from Kentucky, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY).
No matter who asked for it, the $2.9 billion is not funded by this bill - it is just authorized. Separate legislation would be needed to actually fund the extra money for that water project.