Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray
Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray DAVID RYDER / GETTY

There's a lot going on in the last minute, 2,232-page omnibus spending bill Congress must approve by Friday in order to avoid another government shutdown: military spending, increased funding for the Internal Revenue Service, a barely-anything gun safety measure, money for border walls and ICE (with conditions). Democrats are frustrated the bill brought no answers for DREAMers, but are likely to support it anyway.

Washington State's senators are praising two elements in the bill: tax credits for affordable housing and protections for tipped workers.

Senator Maria Cantwell helped push for an expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), a key source of funding for affordable housing. The tax credits have helped fund 24,000 affordable housing units in King County, according to leaders of local housing authorities and the state Housing Finance Commission.

Cantwell and affordable housing advocates say the lower corporate tax rates passed with the Republican tax bill late last year will cause a hit to the housing program. To offset that, the omnibus bill will increase the housing tax credit allocation over the next four years by 12.5 percent. According to Cantwell's office, it's the first increase in the credit in more than a decade.

Meanwhile, Washington's other senator, Patty Murray, helped get a regulation on tip pooling into the spending bill. That rule comes in response to the Department of Labor considering a rule change that would allow employers to redirect tips given to workers who make at least the minimum wage. Supporters of the change said it would allow bosses to split up tips with back-of-house workers, who typically make lower wages. But labor advocates pointed out that it could also allow bosses to simply pocket the tips for themselves. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and 16 other AGs wrote in a letter that the rule change would hurt workers and deceive customers. The omnibus bill will now state explicitly that employers cannot keep employees' tips.

The Hill reports that Murray struck a deal with Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to get the language in the spending bill.

In an email to supporters about the agreement, Saru Jayaraman, president of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, called it "a historic victory for restaurant workers... The fact that hundreds of thousands of workers stood up and said no to employers taking their tips, and that Congressional leadership listened and acted, is a testament to the power of workers standing up together.”