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Congress passes U.S. spending bill to end 40-year-old oil export ban

The end of the 40-year ban on most U.S. crude oil exports is a “big win,” according to House Speaker Paul Ryan, and it’s a top priority for Republicans.

Congress passed a US$1.1-trillion spending measure that averts a U.S. government shutdown and ends a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports, a plan that ensures fiscal peace in Congress through most of 2016.

The Senate passed the bill 65-33 on Friday, shortly after a 316-113 House vote. The legislation, which will finance the government through September 2016, goes to President Barack Obama, who plans to sign it.

“I’m not wild about everything in it. I’m sure that’s true of everybody,” Obama told reporters at the White House during his end-of-year press conference. “But it is a budget that, as I insisted, invests in our military and the middle class.”

The president praised House Speaker Paul Ryan, elected to the post Oct. 29 after Republican insurgents drove John Boehner out of Congress. “He is respectful of the process and respectful of how legislation works,” Obama said. “So kudos to him as well as all the other leaders and appropriators involved in this process.”

The end of the 40-year ban on most U.S. crude oil exports is a “big win,” according to Ryan of Wisconsin, and it’s a top priority for Republicans. Democrats call it a giveaway to oil companies, and in exchange they negotiated extensions of environmental measures including solar and wind energy tax credits.

The two measures, combined in H.R. 2029, include about US$680 billion in revived tax breaks over the next 10 years. A number of them would be made permanent, including those for business research and development, small business expenses, individual deductions for state and local sales taxes, and financing rules for multinational corporations.

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