US Congress passes massive spending, tax-relief deal

WASHINGTON: Lawmakers approves a compromise $1.1 trillion spending package on Friday that funds the US government through next September, tightens the visa requirements of US and ends a longstanding oil export ban and reforms the International Monitory Fund (IMF).

The measure extends several tax exemptions worth more than $620 billion and that critics warn will increase the national debt.

The bill easily passed by the Senate through 65 votes to 33 shortly after clearing the House earlier on Friday as the last major acts of Congress before year end holidays.

Architects of the deal worked overtime this week cajoling rank and file members on both sides into backing the $1.149 trillion, catch all bill which came in at more than 2,000 pages.

President Barack Obama swiftly signed the measure into law as he prepared to leave Washington for California, and then a family vacation in Hawaii.

He made calls to all four congressional leaders to thank them for their efforts. He offered special praise for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been in the chamber’s top job for all of two months.

“He has been professional. He has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do. I think it’s a good working relationship,” Obama told a year-end press conference.

While he described the package as a “good win,” Obama acknowledged there are “some things in there that I don’t like. But that’s the nature of legislation and compromise, and I think the system worked.”

Known as an “omnibus,” the fiscal year 2016 spending bill includes priorities of both parties, and left out some pet projects that made it difficult for some lawmakers to sign on.

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