Business & Economy

On The Money — Congress sends $1.7T funding package to Biden

Greg Nash

Congress is heading out for the rest of the year after putting a bow on a $1.7 trillion government funding bill this afternoon.

We’ll also look at the latest on the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation, why Democrats released former President Trump’s tax returns and more.

But first, what do you think of Obama’s list of favorite movies

Welcome to On The Money, your guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. For The Hill, we’re Aris Folley and Karl Evers-HillstromSubscribe here or in the box below.

Programming note: We’ll be on hiatus until Tuesday, Jan. 3. Happy holidays!


House passes omnibus, funding government into fall

The House passed a mammoth $1.7 trillion omnibus package on Friday, capping off weeks of drama to lock down government funding for the 2023 fiscal year. 

The bill passed largely along party lines, 225-201-1, a day after the Senate approved it in a bipartisan vote. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

  • The legislation includes $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary spending and $858 billion in defense funding — a plus-up Republicans championing the bill say outpaces inflation, while touting the opposite for nondefense funding.
  • And it includes legislation known as the Electoral Count Act, which clarifies the vice president’s role in certifying a presidential election as ceremonial. That measure is intended to help prevent a repeat of the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Trump mob invaded the Capitol and forced the evacuation of Congress.
  • Democrats have also pointed to a $13.4 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a boost of $28.5 billion for child nutrition programs as well as $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. 

While the bill drew broad Democratic support, only nine Republicans in the House voted for the measure, as GOP leaders whipped their members to oppose it. 

Some Democrats were also far from thrilled with the package, with two defections from the progressives amid resistance to increases for defense funding. 

Aris has the details here

More from The Hill


Fed’s preferred index shows inflation easing again

The Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation eased again last month, potentially bolstering hopes that central banks will slow down interest rate hikes.

  • The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose 0.1 percent in November and 5.5 percent over the last year.
  • That’s down from the prior month’s 6 percent annual increase.
  • Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.2 percent month to month and just 4.7 percent annually, roughly in line with analyst predictions. 

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 0.5 percentage points, the smallest increase since June.

We’ll see whether the latest PCE data will encourage the Fed to slow down rate increases that economists warn could cause a recession. 

Karl has more here


How Big Tech fought antitrust reform — and won 

Tech giants and their army of industry groups rallied together to stifle a multiyear congressional effort to overhaul antitrust laws, pouring millions into campaigns to block key bipartisan bills targeting the nation’s four largest tech firms.

They appear to have prevailed over would-be reformers. Two key bipartisan measures targeting internet giants failed to make it into end-of-the-year must pass bills, effectively killing their chances of passing this year.   

And with the GOP set to take control of the House in January, the best opportunity to push them through may now be in the rearview mirror. 

  • Tech giants and their allied trade associations spent $277 million on lobbying in the past two years, six times more than supporters of antitrust legislation. Amazon and Apple both broke their own lobbying spending records this year.
  • They dispatched former aides to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who neglected to bring the bills up for a floor vote, and Judiciary Committee staffers who helped write the antitrust bills.
  • Big Tech also took down online privacy bills and legislation to funnel ad revenue from digital platforms to news outlets, pulling off a clean sweep.  

Karl and Rebecca Klar dig into it here.

Why Democrats released Trump’s tax returns 

After years of fighting for former President Trump’s tax returns, Democrats finally got a hold of them and released them to the public through two congressional reports published this week.  

But Democrats stress their decision was not about Trump himself but rather about oversight of the IRS and about the U.S. tax system more broadly — even though Trump was the first president since Watergate not to release his returns before assuming the presidency. 

The report from the Democratic-led Ways and Means Committee found Trump wasn’t audited during his first two years in office. His first audit as president came only right when the IRS was asked directly by Congress to produce Trump’s tax returns.  

That could be a violation of IRS policy, which states that “individual income tax returns for the President and Vice President will be subject to mandatory audit examination” and that they’ll receive “normal pipeline processing” and be subject to “regular filing and retention procedures.” 

The Hill’s Tobias Burns has the rundown here

Good to Know

If the Christmas tree looks larger this year, the reason may be the smaller pile of gifts beneath it.

Retail analysts expect Americans to spend roughly the same amount on holiday gifts this year as last. Yet, because of inflation, the money will buy fewer gifts. Seven fewer gifts, to be exact.

Other items we’re keeping an eye on: 

  • A massive winter storm has left thousands stranded at U.S. airports on Friday, just days before the Christmas holiday.
  • President Biden on Friday signed the $858 billion annual defense authorization bill after Congress passed the legislation just before the year-end deadline.
  • Congress this week passed a bill to incentivize food donations in an effort to fight hunger and reduce food waste.
  • Facebook parent company Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle a privacy class-action case accusing the social media giant of allowing consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, and other third parties, access to user information.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week! 

Tags antitrust Biden big tech Chuck Schumer Donald Trump inflation Obama omnibus President Biden Spending Bill

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