Lawmakers tried to put months of bickering to bed on Monday by unveiling a $1.1 trillion spending bill that they'll vote on soon - and we have to admit, we were surprised.
Not by the deal, per se. The surprise came in the form of some unexpected government bills that will continue to be paid in 2014.
- Reassurances to Pope Francis. The U.S. State Department will continue funding a diplomatic presence at the Vatican, prohibiting a merger with the larger embassy in Rome "unless certain conditions are met to maintain its importance and authority." The Foreign Service as a whole, however, will have to make do with less: The bill cuts $224 milion for embassy security, maintenance, and construction costs.
- Condolences to a Congressional widow. Beverly A. Young, widow of Bill Young, the late House Representative from Florida, received her own $174,000 of appropriated funds.
- A ban on horsemeat. The bill contains ten lines reaffirming The Horse Protection Act of 1970. Other animals (and their respective protection acts) mentioned by name include rhinoceroses, tigers, great apes, marine turtles, and Asian elephants.
- Mail on Saturdays. The Postal Service will continue delivering six days a week - and if those packages come from Amazon, maybe even seven.
- "...appropriate" IRS videos? Not only did the embattled IRS lose $526 million in funding, they also lost their film-making privileges. Or at least most of them: "None of funds made available to the Internal Revenue Service by this Act may be used to make a video unless the Service-Wide Video Editorial Board determines in advance that making the video is appropriate, taking into account the cost, topic, tone, and purpose of the video."
- The Affordable Care Act. It's missing $1 billion for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, but Obamacare lives on.
What didn't make it into the bill? Money to enforce the ban on incandescent light bulbs.