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: ‘Secure 2.0′ retirement in, cannabis banking out: Here are the details of Congress’ big year-end spending package

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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.

Lawmakers must pass the “omnibus” spending package for 2023 before a stopgap budget expires after Friday. The package includes $858 billion in defense spending, up about 10% from the prior year, and a nearly 6% increase in nondefense spending, to $772.5 billion.

The measure includes a number of items known as policy riders, including some of the major items that follow.

What’s in

“Secure Act 2.0”: The retirement savings bill known as the Secure Act 2.0 would automatically enroll workers into a retirement plan. “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.

What’s out

The cannabis banking measure known as the SAFE Banking Act was left out. The bill aims to protect financial institutions
KBE,
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that work with the marijuana industry
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Cannabis stocks ended sharply lower Monday on reports the measure would not be included.

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.”

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