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Obama Signs $1.8 Trillion Tax And Spending Bill Into Law

President Obama signs the budget bill in the Oval Office on Friday.
Carolyn Kaster

President Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion funding bill that will keep the federal government running until Sept. 30, 2016. Earlier on Friday, the Senate gave final congressional approval to the bill, which includes nearly $700 billion in tax breaks.

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 also contains a few policy provisions.

"It strengthens cybersecurity programs, renews the health care program for Sept. 11 responders and 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 past five years will face higher scrutiny if they wish to enter the U.S.

"Hard-line 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 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."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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