Congress finally passed a $900 billion bill to provide relief to millions of struggling Americans amid the pandemic. But aside from aid for small businesses, expanded unemployment benefits, money for vaccine distribution and other obvious calls, lawmakers stuffed some insanely weird things into the last-minute deal. Among the oddball details: The “Protecting Lawful Streaming Act,” a new law creating harsher penalties for people who make money off pirating streamed content, tax breaks for NASCAR, the establishment of a National Women’s Smithsonian Museum and an American Latino Smithsonian Museum, and the decriminalization of acts such as transporting water chestnuts across state lines or impersonating emblems like the U.S. Forest Service’s “Smokey Bear.”
Lawmakers also saw the bill as an opportunity to take a stance on selecting the next Dalai Lama, an issue of religious freedom in Tibet that China has previously tried to stick its nose into. The U.S. will “take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism,” lawmakers wrote. The text of the whopping 5,593-page bill was only released a few hours before lawmakers voted on it on Monday night.