SHOCKER, NOT: Surprises Tucked in Senate Debt Bill

The legislation released by the Senate late Wednesday to reopen the government contains several surprises.

The bill includes extra funds to fix flooded roads in Colorado, a $3 million appropriation for a civil liberties oversight board and a one-time payment to the widow of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who died over the summer.

It also includes an increase in authorization for spending on construction on the lower Ohio River in Illinois and Kentucky. The bill increases it to $2.918 billion.

The Senate Conservatives Fund quickly called that language the “Kentucky Kickback,” and said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) secured that as the price of his support for the bill. Taxpayers for Common Sense says the bill would increase total authorized spending by $1.2 billion.

Senate staffers were still scrambling to piece the bill together for votes in the House and Senate Wednesday night. Lawmakers hope to get it to President Obama’s desk before Thursday’s deadline for raising the debt ceiling.

A draft of the bill began circulating in the early evening, and a final version was released by Senate Democratic staff just before 6 p.m.

The legislation also includes specific language that aims to pay back furloughed federal government workers as soon as is practicable.

Section 115 of the text says government workers who are furloughed because of the shutdown “shall be compensated at their standard rate of compensation, for the period of such lapse in appropriations, as soon as practicable after such lapse in appropriations.”

Section 116 says states that funded a federal program will be compensated as well, and that the government will pay back states for these costs.

The legislation broadly re-opens the government through Jan. 15, and extends the ability of the government to borrow money through Feb. 7. It does so by allowing President Obama to waive the debt ceiling, a move that can be overridden by a resolution of disapproval by Congress that Obama could still veto.

Read more: thehill.com

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