Congress has been busy running up the national charge card before Christmas, approving both a $900 billion stimulus bill and a roughly $1.4 trillion budget measure to fund federal operations.

As is usually the case when a huge spending bill hits Congress late in the session, very few – if any – members were able to read, nevermind understand – exactly what they were voting on. That’s even more true for these two measures which, as Cato’s Chris Edwards notes, is a mile-long collection of deals, wishes, wants, and occasionally, necessities:

The bill is an astounding 5,585 pages in length, including 544 pages for coronavirus relief, 1,915 pages for appropriations, and 3,126 pages for extensions and corrections.

If it were printed at 11 inches per page, that’s 61,435 inches or 5,120 feet. Since there are 5,280 feet in a mile, the bill is almost a mile of paper end to end.

It almost qualifies as an environmental disaster. But what’s inside these pulpy beasts? According to the Wall Street Journal, the stimulus portion contains a grab-bag of payments, loans, and bailouts. Among the highlights:

The legislation would authorize a second round of economic-impact payments, following the checks Americans received in the spring and summer, at a cost of $166 billion.

Households would receive $600 for each adult and $600 for each dependent, instead of $1,200 and $500, respectively, in the first round. Mixed-status households, where some people are ineligible noncitizens, would get payments based on the number of eligible people in the households, as opposed to being shut out as they were in the first round.

The payments would be based on income from 2019 and begin phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes over $75,000 and married couples over $150,000. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that the first electronic payments could reach bank accounts by the beginning of next week.

There are also funds heading to airlines, farms, museums, renters, schools, and more. 

The federal budget portion is sure to include items that will strike most as old-fashioned pork-barrel spending. We’ll pass those findings along as they become available.