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President Obama has signed a $1.1 trillion funding bill that will keep the federal government running until Sept. 30, 2016. Earlier on Friday, the Senate gave final congressional approval to the bill, which includes nearly $700 billion in tax breaks.

The Senate adopted the Omnibus Appropriations Act by a vote of 65-33; the House did so by a 316-113 tally.

NPR's Ailsa Chang reports:

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Even some of those seeking the nation's highest office have weighed in on college debt with payment plans and relief proposals. Voters and the media ask for details on the campaign trail. And that highlights a remarkable shift: Policymakers and politicians are paying attention to this issue like never before.

And it's not as simple or cynical as trying to woo the important student vote. The fact is, the student loan burden in America is second only to mortgages in consumer debt. The government estimates that some 41 million students together owe more than $1.2 trillion.

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When NPR first met Laura Silva Kirkpatrick and her husband, Ricardo Robleño Llorente, they were both in their late 20s and both unemployed.

They considered themselves members of Spain's so-called "lost generation" and felt as though they'd lost their best years to the country's economic crisis. At the time, more than half of Spanish 20-somethings were out of work.

That was nearly 18 months ago.

Despite facing mounting evidence federal officials were overpaying some Medicare health plans by tens of millions of dollars a year, the government dialed back efforts to recover as much of the money as possible, newly released records show.

The privately run Medicare Advantage plans offer seniors an alternative to traditional Medicare and in recent years have signed up more than 17 million members, about a third of people eligible for Medicare.

An attachment to the last-minute spending proposal going before Congress this week would end a six-year trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. If it's passed, as seems likely, the omnibus budget bill would repeal a law called COOL that requires "country-of-origin labels" on meat.

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For years, critics have been fulminating while watching lawmakers take little or no action on crucial spending and taxing matters.

This week, at least, the "do-nothing Congress" label won't stick.

On Thursday, the U.S. House approved a massive package of tax breaks worth $622 billion, voting 318-109. On Friday, the House will vote again, this time on a $1.1 trillion spending package.

On March 27, 2013, John Sweeney, a plumber from Ireland, started a Facebook page called Suspended Coffees. His message was simple: Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger, because an act of kindness can change a life. Eight hours later, the page had attracted more than 20,000 likes.

The mysterious new owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was revealed in a statement printed on page 2 of Thursday's edition: "We are proud to announce that the Adelson family has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal through a wholly-owned fund, as both a financial investment as well as an investment in the future of the Las Vegas community."

Commercial airline flights are due to resume between the United States and Cuba — a step in the ongoing thaw in relations between the two countries.

State Department officials announced the aviation deal Thursday, a year after President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro began the process of restoring diplomatic ties.

Tourism to Cuba is booming, and reconciliation is visible in other ways, as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports for our Newscast unit:

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Martin Shkreli, the drug executive who was widely criticized for sharply raising the price of a drug used by HIV patients, was arrested Thursday by federal agents on charges that he misused funds at the company he founded.

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The holiday season can bring stresses — what with the shopping, shipping, baking and bills — but for workers in the energy sector, this December is turning out to be especially tough thanks to industry layoffs.

Take Robin Ewan, who, for more than 30 years, worked as a test engineer for Schlumberger, a global oilfield service company. Not anymore.

Until the morning of Sept. 25, 2014, life was treating Kris Penny well. His flooring company had just secured its first big contract.

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Uber has grown into a global phenomenon with a flexible labor system in which drivers are treated as independent contractors. Increasingly, that system is under attack.

Just this week Seattle passed a historic law to allow Uber drivers, and other drivers on contract, to unionize. And it turns out, according to legal experts, the local law has teeth.

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Being able to speak like the chair of the Federal Reserve is an art. Equally impressive - being able to understand what the fed chief is saying. Here's Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen today.

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Megan Greene isn't convinced the Fed did the right thing today. She's chief economist at John Hancock asset management. Welcome back to the program, Megan.

MEGAN GREENE: Thanks.

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If you own a commercial building in America, chances are you're going to take out terrorism insurance. It has moved into the mainstream with the depressing frequency of international incidents. Six in 10 major businesses in America are insured for terrorism damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute, although the coverage is rarely used.

When lawmakers — and lobbyists — use the budget bill as a vehicle to slip in new policies or upend regulations, it reminds me of my kids at the grocery store.

They ask for Nutella. I say "No." But when I'm not looking, they slip it into the cart. And it's only the next day I see it slathered on toast.

After years of debate, cybersecurity legislation may pass this week, tucked inside the trillion-dollar federal spending bill.

The House and the Senate both have passed competing versions of cybersecurity legislation and pressed to negotiate a version they could pass before the end of the year. It's now part of the massive appropriations package, toward the end of the latest amended draft, which is expected to go up for vote later this week.

Fuel economy is at record highs and carmakers have surpassed strict greenhouse gas emissions standards for the third straight year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which released a pair of annual reports about the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks Wednesday.

Overall, fuel economy for vehicles in the U.S. did not budge from last year's record high of 24.3 miles per gallon, the EPA says. The figure includes a new high of 20.4 mpg for trucks, vans and SUVs from model year 2014.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced liftoff for short-term interest rates — a launch that may send many borrowing costs higher in 2016.

The 0.25-percentage-point increase — to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent — in the federal funds rate was small but important because it signals the beginning of the end of easy money; the Fed wants to get back to normal after years of fighting economic stagnation with supercheap loans.

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