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Both sides get a little something in bipartisan spending deal

Members of Congress made a sweeping deal to fund government through next fall and extend dozens of tax cuts. Political director Lisa Desjardins discusses what went into the agreement with Gwen Ifill.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    As the candidates tangled last night, members of Congress were shaking hands in Washington, as leaders agreed to a sweeping deal to fund the government and extend dozens of tax breaks.

    Attached to all of that are a slew of other issues, from immigration to oil.

    Speaker Paul Ryan said both parties made concessions.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, Speaker of the House: Republicans didn't get all that we wanted. Democrats didn't get all that we — we wanted. This is a bipartisan compromise. It's a bicameral compromise. And I understand that some people don't like some of the aspects of this, but that is the compromise that we have.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Political director Lisa Desjardins has been digging into the deal, and she joins us now live from Capitol Hill.

    Lisa, it's so interesting to hear Paul Ryan talk about a bipartisan agreement. Before we get into the details of that agreement, how unusual is it for both parties to agree on something this big anymore?

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Well, they used to do this only by force. We used to run right up to and sometimes across a government shutdown to do this.

    I think what's really unusual here, Gwen, is, for the past years, we have seen all of these collisions result in no one getting anything, everyone sticking to their hard lines. But here, what we see is both sides getting something, in fact, a lot of something, ahead of the holiday break.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, let's start by talking about the cyber-security provisions in this, which actually got tougher, it seemed to me.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That's right.

    This cyber-security bill has been a controversial idea for the past year. And I'm going to talk about why it is a controversial provision. Supporters say that this bill would allow businesses to send data about specific hacks to the federal government, and then, from there, the government could alert other businesses. So, if Target was hacked, they would tell the NSA, the NSA would alert other businesses.

    They say those companies would share that data voluntarily. What about critics? Well, critics say, that's fine, but the truth is that the government could hold on to that data, and as much as the data is not supposed to be our personal information, it's very possible that it could be. And once the government got that data, Gwen, the critics say this law would allow them to use it for some prosecutorial aspects, not just on cyber-security, but everything from espionage to child exploitation, things, of course, that the government does want to prosecute, but things that those who are worried about civil liberties say opens a vast door to government surveillance.

    One thing about this, Gwen, it splits the business community itself. Retailers and financial companies, they really like this. They say it's needed. But those who are involved in technology, especially Silicon Valley, Facebook, Apple, they don't like it at all. They think it's a bad idea.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Let's move to the energy trade-off, the deal that they cut. The Democrats were happy for some of it, Republicans for others, for other parts.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That's right. This is what I mean by some — each side got a little bit of something.

    So, here's what the energy trade-off was in this bill. First of all, for Republicans, they got a reversal of a 40-year ban on exporting oil. That is a very big deal for them, and especially a very big deal for oil, for drilling here in this country.

    Democrats, on the other hand, got something that they want. They got extended solar and wind tax credits. Those will be extended over the next five years. That's something the Republicans had talked about completely ending.

    So, here, you see some this sort of — some of the environment and the energy sector gaining, both sides here. Everyone liked something and didn't like something as far as the energy portion of this bill goes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    There was another part of the bill which I found interesting, because it showed lobbying working, but it was unconventional lobbying.

    The comedian Jon Stewart went to Capitol Hill and he pushed for a 9/11 first-responders protection bill, which he actually confronted members of the Senate and House face to face, and this survived.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    That's right.

    He really became a leading force in that bill. It was an emotional bill talking about the 60,000 or so first-responders whose insurance doesn't cover all of their care. Now, this bill that would have covered the rest of it expired, Gwen, in September. Jon Stewart has been a very strong advocate. And we have also seen, of course, a large amount of lobbying from the New York delegation here as well.

    So this bill in full went into the omnibus. That's what I mean. This bill just contains so much that will affect a great number of lives, including that of first-responders in New York City.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And we probably just scratched the surface of it, but you did it very well.

    Thank you very much, Lisa Desjardins, for us on Capitol Hill tonight.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    You're welcome.

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