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US spending bill disallows Gitmo inmates transfer to America

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Barack Obama signs a $1.1 trillion spending package that funds the government through September 2016 in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on December 18, 2015. (AFP Photo)

US President Barack Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion government spending package with a controversial cybersecurity measure and a ban on Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ transfer to the United States.

The motion comes in two huge packages: a $1.1 trillion government spending measure to fund every federal agency through September 2016, and a $680 billion tax bill.

Although it has tax breaks for low-wage earners, the legislation contains a controversial cybersecurity measure that was slammed by critics as an expansion of government spying.

The so-called Cybersecurity Act of 2015 is actually a combination of three bills passed by Congress over the year, including the often-criticized Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA).

The new law authorizes companies to share information about cyber threats with “any federal entity.” Any company participating in the data sharing would be immune from consumer lawsuits.

The package, which cleared the House of Representatives in a 316-113 vote on Friday, received 65 Senate votes in favor and 33 against.

Another contentious measure in the legislation is a ban on the transfer of inmates from the notorious US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the United States.

The US president had in his presidential campaign of 2008 vowed to shutter the scandalous detention center.

After signing the bill Obama said, “There’s some things in there that I don’t like, but that’s the nature of legislation and compromise, and I think the system worked,” adding, “It was a good win.”

US restricts visa-free travel

Tucked into the legislation are provisions that will put tougher restrictions on visa-free travel to the United States.

Under the bill, people who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria in the past five years will face higher scrutiny if they want to enter the US.

For more than 25 years, the Visa Waiver Program has allowed people from 38 nations to travel to the US without a visa.

Such foreign nationals are now required to obtain a visa through standard measures, including face-to-face interview at a US consulate.


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