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Huge US spending deal clears Congress, heads to Trump

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The US Senate on Thursday passed a gigantic US$1.4 trillion spending deal that pumps nearly US$50 billion in extra funding into federal agencies and prevents a holiday-season government shutdown, if President Donald Trump signs it as expected.

[WASHINGTON] The US Senate on Thursday passed a gigantic US$1.4 trillion spending deal that pumps nearly US$50 billion in extra funding into federal agencies and prevents a holiday-season government shutdown, if President Donald Trump signs it as expected.

The legislation - which easily passed in two parts in the Senate after clearing the House earlier this week - caps a flurry of year-end bipartisanship just a day after Mr Trump became only the third US president ever to be impeached.

The deal fulfills spending requirements for the military that were sought by Republicans, as well as domestic projects prioritised by Democrats.

It keeps the government running through the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

"Bipartisan cooperation has made this possible," Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Richard Shelby said in a statement.

"This package of appropriations bills includes resources for critical domestic priorities that our entire nation will benefit from receiving."

The sprawling legislation includes a 3.1 per cent increase in pay for members of the military and a US$22 billion jump in defence spending.

It notably raises the minimum age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 across the country, and provides US$25 million for gun violence research, the first time such funding has been allocated in two decades.

The package repeals a series of unpopular taxes, including the Obamacare "Cadillac" tax on high-cost health insurance benefits, provides US$1.5 billion in grants to help states respond to the opioid crisis, and allocates US$425 million for election security.

It also provides US$1.375 billion to improve and build barriers and update the wall system along the US-Mexico border, a priority for the president.

AFP