Measures to help Americans save for retirement and billions of extra dollars for Ukraine were attached to a sprawling year-end spending bill released early Tuesday by U.S. lawmakers, while an expanded Child Tax Credit and a cannabis banking bill did not make the cut.
The Senate approved the bill Thursday afternoon on a vote of 68-29, sending it to the House of Representatives for a separate vote. Lawmakers must pass the “omnibus” spending package for 2023 before a stopgap budget expires this week — which would trigger a partial government shutdown starting Saturday. The package includes $858 billion in defense spending, which is up about 10% from the prior year. Nondefense spending would see a nearly 6% increase, to $772.5 billion.
The measure includes a number of items known as policy riders, including some of the major items that follow.
- “Secure Act 2.0”: The retirement savings bill known as the Secure Act 2.0 would automatically enroll workers into retirement plans like 401(k)s and raise the age at which Americans must take retirement-account distributions. “This important legislation will enhance the retirement security of tens of millions of American workers — and for many of them give them the opportunity for the first time to begin saving,” said Brian Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association, in a statement.
- TikTok ban: Downloading the app TikTok on U.S. government-issued devices is banned under the bill. The Senate recently passed a ban and this measure would ensure a House vote. Lawmakers have concerns about the Chinese-owned app’s security risks.
- Ukraine aid: Lawmakers will vote on giving Ukraine an extra $44.9 billion to aid it in its defense against the Russian invasion.
- Electoral Count Act: The measure updates the 1887 Electoral Count Act, in an effort to prevent another Jan. 6 insurrection. The update makes it harder to block the certification of a presidential election.
- Boeing relief: As pointed out by analysts at Beacon Policy Advisors, Boeing BA,
-4.06%got an exemption for its 737 MAX 7 and 10 from a certification deadline to redesign cockpits. Boeing will be required instead to retrofit certain safety features, in line with recommendations from European and Canadian regulators, Beacon said in a note Tuesday. Relatives of passengers who died in 737 MAX plane crashes opposed that provision.
- The cannabis banking measure known as the SAFE Banking Act was left out. The bill aims to protect financial institutions KBE,
-1.41%that work with the marijuana industry MSOS, -2.70%MJ, -3.83%. Cannabis stocks ended sharply lower Monday on reports the measure would not be included and also declined Tuesday.
- Child Tax Credit: Efforts to increase the Child Tax Credit aren’t included. “These monthly CTC checks have proven their power to significantly reduce child poverty in the United States and would ensure parents and kids — particularly those within low-income communities and communities of color — have the resources they need to weather the rising cost of living,” said Adam Ruben, director at Economic Security Project Action.
- Business tax “extenders”: Companies lobbied Congress to bring back immediate tax deductions for research-and-development costs — but did not get them.
- Addressing the debt limit: Congress had a chance to raise the U.S. debt limit in this bill, but did not. Chris Krueger of Cowen Washington Research Group called this “not a surprise & sets up probably the biggest fight within a divided government next summer/fall.”
- Credit card interchange routing rules: Supporters of a move aimed at creating more competition in the credit-card business didn’t get this provision. The measure targeted Visa Inc. V,
-1.39%and Mastercard Inc. MA, -1.76%, but as MarketWatch reported, several analysts suggested that any new rules would have a greater impact on banks, which receive interchange fees that are paid by the merchant to card-issuing banks.