Issue Spotlight: What’s in the #Omnibus?

12 min read

Our non-exhaustive outline, drawing from committee sources, summaries, and bill text:

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (The “Omnibus”)


A. Agriculture

  • Rural Development: $2.8 billion ($36.7 billion in loan authorizations for rural communities to address housing, electrification and telecommunication needs)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service: $864 million
  • Food Safety
    • $1 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service
    • Withholds more than $57 million from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) until the Secretary certifies that ARS has updated its animal care policies and improved procedures at its animal research facilities.
  • U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): $250 million
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA): $2.73 billion (total funding for the FDA, including revenue from user fees, is $4.68 billion)
  • Nutrition
    • $6.350 billion for Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
    • $23 million for the summer EBT program
    • $22.1 billion in required mandatory funding for child nutrition programs
    • $80.8 billion in required mandatory spending for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
  • International Food Programs
    • $1.466 billion for Food for Peace (including one-time appropriation of $250 million to address the refugee crisis in the Middle East)
    • $201.626 million for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program
  • Emergency Watershed Protection Program –  $130 million in disaster funding

Policy Riders:

  • Repealing mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for certain meat products. (Violated WTO standards, and would have resulted in trade retaliation by other nations if continued – negatively impacting the U.S. economy by more than $1 billion) (related bill: H.R. 2393)
  • Year delay for groceries and restaurants applying new menu labeling regulations (On July 10, 2015, FDA published a final rule to extend the compliance date to December 1, 2016.) (related bills: H.R. 2017 and S. 2217)
  • Exempting baking industries and small businesses from FDA trans-fat rules
  • Restrictions on Dietary Guidelines (pending Institute of Medicine review + requirement to include “balanced and scientific process”)
  • Flexibility to local schools to implement whole grain nutrition standards if the school can demonstrate a hardship when procuring whole grain products
  • Preventing FDA review of genome-editing tools
  • Delaying school nutrition sodium standards

B. Commerce/Justice/Science

  • Funds DOJ at $28.7 billion (FBI, U.S. Attorneys, Immigration judges, DEA, ATF, Federal Prisons)
  • $2.5 billion for various state and local grant programs
    • $480 million for Violence Against Women programs
    • $476 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants
    • $210 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
    • $72 million for missing and exploited children programs
    • $45 million to address the sexual assault kit backlog
    • $70 million for programs to improve police-community relations (including body cameras)
  • $19.3 billion for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • $7.5 billion for NSF
  • $9.2 billion for Commerce Department (USPTO, Census Bureau, NOAA)

Policy Riders:

  • Prohibition on the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
  • Prohibition on construction of facilities in the U.S. intended for Guantanamo detainees
  • Prohibiting Dept. of Commerce from relinquishing internet management responsibility (related bills: S. 1551 and H.R. 805)
  • Second Amendment Provisions:
    • Prohibiting “gunwalking”
    • Prohibiting license requirement to export gun parts to Canada under $500
    • Prohibiting DOJ from denying permit for importing “curios or relics” related to firearms, parts or ammunition of U.S. origin
    • Prohibiting DOJ from denying permit for importing shotguns
    • Prohibiting funds to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty
  • Prohibiting Legal Services Corp grantees from abortion-related litigation
  • No funds can be used for abortions (except where life of the mother in danger)
  • Prohibiting overhaul to Census questions re: health insurance coverage
  • Addressing supply chain risk assessments for major DOJ IT acquisitions
  • Prohibiting NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy from engaging in bilateral activities with China unless specifically authorized by Congress
  • Prohibition on agencies denying information access to Offices of Inspector General

 C. Defense

  • $58.6 billion for ongoing military operations abroad
  • $32.3 billion for the Defense Health Program for our troops, military families, and retirees
  • $111 billion for new equipment and upgrades
    • 68 F-35 Joint-Strike Fighters
    • 102 Blackhawk Helicopters
    • 64 Remanufactured Apache Helicopters
    • Three Littoral Combat Ships
    • Two Attack Submarines
    • Two DDG-51 Guided Missile Destroyers
    • Seven EA-18G Growlers and five F-18E/F Super Hornets
    • 12 KC-46 Tankers
  • Prohibits funding for transfers of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.
  • $288.3 million for sexual assault prevention and response programs
  • $69.8 billion in base for Research and Development
  • 1.3% pay raise for military personnel
  • $26.7 million for the Defense Suicide Prevention Office
  • $231.2 million for Formerly Used Defense Sites Environmental Restoration
  • $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative
  • $715 million for the Iraq Train and Equip program
  • $527.6 million for Israeli cooperative missile defense programs and tunnel detection

D. Energy and Water

  • $2.1 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • $5.35 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science
  • $291 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • $206 million for activities to modernize the electricity grid
  • $6.2 billion for environmental cleanup activities
  • $8.8 billion for Weapons Activities
  • $1.94 billion for Nuclear Nonproliferation
  • $1.4 billion for Naval Reactors
  • $6.0 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers
  • $1.2 billion is for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
  • $1.3 billion for water resources projects within the Department of Interior
  • $146 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission

Policy Riders:

  • prohibiting change in definition of “fill material”
  • restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches
  • prohibiting funding for the “light bulb” standard
  • Continuation of funding for Yucca mountain to maintain readiness for future use

E. Financial Services

  • $11.9 billion for the Department of the Treasury
  • $11.235 billion for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (Current level)
    • A prohibition on funding for videos or conferences unless approved by the “Service-Wide Video Editorial Board” “taking into account the cost, topic, tone, and purpose of the video.”
    • Prohibition on funding to target organizations for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights
    • A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations
    • Prohibition on funding for improperly disclosing confidential taxpayer information
    • Prohibition on funds for preparing tax returns, with certain exceptions;
    • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration
    • A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax exempt status of an organization
    • A requirement that the agency report on spending activities and official time
  • $6.8 billion for the Judiciary
  • $729.8 million for the District of Columbia
  • $1.605 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • $871 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • $691.8 million for the Executive Office of the President
  • $10.2 billion for the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Buildings Fund (FBF)
  • $9.6 million for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)

Policy Riders:

  • Prohibiting funds from being used for abortions under FEHBP except in the case of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is in danger (same as current law)
  • Prohibiting federal funds for needle exchange programs under certain conditions (same as current law)
  • Prohibiting federal funds to carry out District of Columbia laws to reduce penalties associated with schedule I substances; and prohibits both Federal and local District of Columbia funds to enact a law to legalize or reduce penalties associated with schedule I substances (same as current law)
  • Prohibition on the use of funds for painting portraits of government employees
  • Prohibition on funding for all agencies in the bill, including the IRS, to conduct email searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment
  • Exemption until 2025 for broadcast companies from FCC TV ownership rules that would force them to undo joint sales agreements or sell stations
  • Extends the Internet Tax Freedom Act for another year
  • Prohibits funds from being used in fiscal year 2016 to finalize or implement the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s proposed rule on recreational off-highway vehicles until a study is completed by the National Academy of Sciences

F. Homeland Security

  • $50 million in new funding to help state and local communities counter violent extremism and prepare for and respond to complex, coordinated terrorist attacks
  • Up to $10 million for Immigrant Integration grants through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Exemption from the H-2B visa cap in fiscal year 2016 for workers who held H-2B visas in 2013, 2014, or 2015
  • $11 billion for customs and border protection, including $1.2 billion in investments in border security and air operations
  • $5.8 billion for ICE to strengthen enforcement of immigrations and customs laws
  • Full funding for E-Verify
  • $7.4 billion for disaster relief – fully funding FEMA’s stated requirement for fiscal year 2016.
    • $2.5 billion for first responder grants
      • $1.5 billion for state and local grants
      • $690 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants
      • $350 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.
  • The bill specifically does not fund the President’s climate change initiatives within FEMA and NPPD.

 G. Interior and Environment

  • $8.139 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • $4.2 billion for wildfire fighting
  • $2.9 billion for the National Park Service
  • Prohibiting funding for proposed rule to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act
  • Prohibiting funding for EPA to regulate lead content of ammunition
  • $4.8 billion for Indian Health Service
  • $1.5 billion for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • $450 million for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), with 50%+ to state and local recreation, conservation, and battlefield protection programs
  • Prohibition on administrative creation of new wilderness areas

H. Labor/Health and Human Services/Education

  • $32 billion for the NIH (Alzheimer’s disease research, brain research, antibiotic research, Precision Medicine Initiative)
  • $7.2 billion for the CDC
  • $70 million to increase the efforts to combat prescription drug overdose abuse
  • $160 million to support the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
  • $160 million for the Preventive Health & Health Services Block Grant
  • Ban on “risk corridor” adjustment
  • Blocks use of Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPH Fund) for other expenses
  • Cuts the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by $15 million
  • Directs the Inspectors General at HHS and the Treasury Department to report on improper payments of ObamaCare tax subsidies
  • Require the Department of Labor to accept private wage surveys in the H-2B program
  • Exempt seasonal contractors offering recreational services or recreational equipment rental on federal land from Executive Order 13658 (minimum wage for contractors)
  • Exempt certain rural long-term care hospitals for one year from a revision in billing rates for treating patients with severe wounds
  • Block a change in reimbursement policy for breast cancer screening, mammography, and breast cancer prevention (will continue to be covered by insurers without a copay)
  • Allows state or local public health departments to use federal funds for support services related to syringe exchange programs, as long as the federal funds do not purchase the syringes
  • Continuation of an annual provision to prevent HHS from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortions
  • Ban on federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the life of the mother
  • Ban on creating embryos for research purposes, or federal funding of research in which embryos are destroyed
    Requiring public comment and transparency in Occupational Safety and Health Administration processes
  • Rolling back labor regulations restricting H-2B program.
  • Ending NLRB electronic voting regulations for union elections

I. Legislative Branch

  • $1.2 billion to fund the operations of the House
  • $375 million for the Capitol Police (increase of $27 million)
  • $612.9 million for the Architect of the Capitol
  • $600 million for the Library of Congress (Copyright Office, the Congressional Research Service, collections for the blind and physically handicapped, and other LoC programs)
  • $556 million for the Government Accountability Office (to provide Congress with accurate, nonpartisan reporting of how taxpayer dollars are spent)
  • $117 million forGovernment Publishing Office (GPO)

J. Military Construction/Veterans Affairs

  • $8.2 billion for military construction projects
  • $135 million to upgrade infrastructure needed for deterrence to counter Russian aggression and address threats from the Middle East and Africa
  • $1.4 billion to fund construction, operation, and maintenance of military family housing
  • $623 million for construction and alterations for new or existing military medical facilities
  • $334 million for essential safety improvements and infrastructure work at ten DoD Education Activities facilities
  • $551 million for construction or alteration of Guard and Reserve facilities in 30 states
  • $162.7 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • $50 billion for VA medical services
    • $1.5 billion for Hepatitis C treatment
    • $7.5 billion in mental health care services
    • $605 million for family caregivers of seriously injured veterans
    • $144 million in suicide prevention activities
    • $232 million for traumatic brain injury treatment
    • $6.7 billion in homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training
    • $270 million in rural health initiatives.
  • $233 million for the VA electronic health record & requirement that the VA create an interoperable system – in a timely and cost-effective fashion
  • $2.7 billion for the costs of processing disability claims
  • $1.2 billion for major construction
  • VA Mandatory Funding (veteran disability compensation and pension program, post-9/11 GI bill education benefits, vocational rehabilitation and employment training)
  • Expansion of whistleblower protection for VA medical staff

K. State/Foreign Operations

  • $53 billion in total funding
  • $8.9 billion for international security assistance (including international narcotics control, nonproliferation programs, peacekeeping operations, and other critical international security and stabilization efforts, and $408 million for anti-terrorism programs)
  • $3.1 billion commitment to the United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding
  • $16.3 billion for the operational costs of the State Department and related agencies
  • $5.6 billion for embassy security
  • $1.5 billion for USAID
  • $24 billion for bilateral assistance to foreign countries (prioritized to support global health and humanitarian assistance
  • Maintains the fiscal year 2015 level for migration and refugee assistance.
  • Additional funds available if needed to respond to humanitarian crises overseas, but not for the domestic refugee resettlement program
  • $2.8 billion for the International Disaster Assistance program

Policy Riders:

  • Prohibition on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Export-Import Bank from blocking coal-fired or other power-generation projects in low and lower-middle income countries that increase the export of U.S. goods or services and prevent the loss of U.S. jobs
  • Reforms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Abortion-related policies:
    • The “Tiahrt Amendment”
    • The “Helms Amendment,” which bans foreign aid from being spent on abortions
    • The “Kemp-Kasten Amendment,” which prohibits funds to organizations the President determines to support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization
    • Reduction of $2.5 million for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • Requirement that the State Department report to Congress on agreements with other countries to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay
  • Prohibition on funding for the renovation of the UN Headquarters in New York
  • Prohibition on appropriations for the new London embassy
  • No funding for debt relief for foreign countries
  • Prohibition on aid to Libya until the Secretary of State confirms Libyan cooperation in the Benghazi investigation
  • Prohibition on funding to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty
  • Prohibition on funding for the State Department and USAID for private email accounts or servers. Requirement for the State Department and USAID to ensure all departing employees turn over records belonging to the federal government
  • Prohibition on funding for the UN Human Rights Council (pending determination national interest and adjustments to Israel stance)
  • Withholds 15% of funds for UN agencies pending audits
  • Country and Region Specific Provisions and Funding:
    • $658 million for Ukraine
    • $1.275 billion for Jordan
    • $141.9 million for Tunisia
    • Iran
      • Requirement that the Secretary of State inform Congress of sanctions on Iran and existing agreements on Iran’s nuclear program
      • Prohibition on Export-Import Bank financing of projects in Iran
      • Requirement that the State Department inform Congress of any separate agreements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran related to Iran’s nuclear program
    • Afghanistan – withholds funds until certain conditions are met
    • Palestinian Authority (PA) – stops economic assistance if they obtain membership in the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel, restricts aid if the PA pursues actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court, prohibits funds for Hamas, and halts funds unless action is taken to counter the incitement of violence
    • Central America – The bill conditions assistance provided to Central American governments on their progress on addressing the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors, including improving border security, combating human smuggling and trafficking, and supporting repatriation for migrants returning from the U.S
    • Russia – No funds are provided for the Russian Government.

L. Transportation/Housing and Urban Development

  • $57.6 billion in funding
  • Transportation
    • $18.7 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT)
    • $56.4 billion in “obligation limitation” funding for surface transportation and safety programs
      • $500 million for the TIGER program, which funds competitive grants for state and local road, transit, port, and railroad construction projects.
    • $42.4 billion for highways
    • $16.3 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    • Funds FAA’s Next Generation air transportation systems (NextGen) at $2.9 billion
    • $1.7 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration
      • Amtrak grant funding is maintained at $1.4 billion
      • $50 million for positive train control technologies and other rail safety grants.
      • No funding for high-speed rail
    • $11.8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
    • $869 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
    • $580 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
    • $252 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
    • $210 million for the Maritime Security Program
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
    • $38.6 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • No funding for any new, unauthorized “sustainable,” “livable,” or “green” community development programs
    • $26.9 billion for Public and Indian Housing
    • $11.3 billion for housing programs
      • $433 million for Housing for the Elderly
      • $151 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities.
      • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program to help end veterans’ homelessness receives an increase of $60 million for new VASH vouchers
    • Community Planning and Development
      • $6.7 billion for Community Planning and Development programs ($3 billion for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula program)

Policy Riders:

  • Prohibition on funding for “National Roadside Survey”
  • Provision conforming Truck Weight Limitations on federal and state highways in Idaho
  • Provision delaying the enforcement of a new Truck Driver Hours of Service rule
  • Provision requiring DOT to ensure citizens’ rights to privacy when issuing vehicle safety regulations
  • Prohibition on funding for the FHA to finance mortgages seized by eminent domain
  • Requiring proof of citizenship to receive housing assistance
  • Limiting the salaries of public housing authority directors
  • Prohibition on bonuses for HUD employees subject to administrative discipline actions
  • Requiring overtime limits on Amtrak employees
  • Prohibiting federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50% or more off normal, peak fares

M. Intelligence Authorization


  • Provides incentives to encourage businesses to share more data on hackers (related bills: H.R. 1731S. 754)
  • Codifies an information-sharing framework by which the government and private industry can share data about known cyber threats in real time
  • DHS will lead collecting and disseminating information, as well as managing the creation of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs)
    • Federal agency heads will identify all positions that require the performance of cybersecurity or cyber-related functions
    • Part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (authorized by the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014)
    • Submit reports to appropriate congressional committees describing implementation of this Act no later than 3 years following Act’s enactment
    • Study on security threats of mobile devices of the Federal Government, must be completed within one year of Act’s enactment
    • Secretary of State shall produce a comprehensive strategy relating to U.S. international policy with regard to cyberspace within three months of Act’s enactment, made available to public
    • Addresses apprehension and prosecution of international cyber criminals
    • Creates Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force, comprised of health care industry stakeholders, cybersecurity experts and any appropriate Federal agencies or entities (as determined by Secretary of Health and Human Services) to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare industry (must convene within three months of Act’s enactment, produce report on cybersecurity threat preparedness within one year of Act’s enactment, task force terminated after one year)

O. “Other Matters”

    • Electronic passport requirement
    • Restriction on use of visa waiver program for aliens who travel to certain countries (related bill: H.R. 158)
    • Reauthorizing the World Trade Center Health Program through 2090 (related bill: S. 928 / H.R. 1786)
    • Reauthorizing the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 for an additional five years and $4.6 billion extension (related bill: S. 928 / H.R. 1786)
    • Payment incentive for the transition from traditional x-ray
      imaging to digital radiography
    • Limiting Federal Medicaid reimbursement to States for durable medical equipment (DME) to Medicare payment rates
  • PUERTO RICO – related provisions

P. “Tax-related Provisions”

  • Moratorium on annual fee on health insurance providers.
  • Extension and phaseout of credits for wind facilities.
  • Extension of election to treat qualified facilities as energy property
  • Extension and phaseout of solar energy credit
  • Extension and phaseout of credits with respect to qualified solar electric property and qualified solar water heating property
  • Treatment of transportation costs of independent refiners.


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