After months of negotiations to fund the government, the Senate on Thursday passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that will shore up funding for the rest of the fiscal year, while also doling out cash for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, additional student aid, cybersecurity and more.
The massive spending package, which would appropriate funds for the government until September 30, passed the Senate on Thursday evening in a bipartisan vote of 68 to 31, with 18 Republicans joining all Democrats voting in support.
It cleared the House on Wednesday evening in similarly bipartisan votes of 361–69 for the defense portion of the bill and 260–171 for non-defense spending.
Headlining the 2,741-page bill, about $782 billion is allocated for military spending under the Defense Department, while an additional $125 billion has been allocated to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In addition to funding day-to-day government operations, the bill appropriates about $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion, with $4 billion to help displaced refugees, $6.5 billion for military assistance and $1.8 billion for any macroeconomic needs, according to the House Committee on Appropriations.
It also grants agency requests for a number of new provisions, including a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, and nearly $7 billion to establish an agency under the National Institutes of Health tasked with building “high-risk, high-reward” technologies for disease research.
Among other provisions are the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 1994 and provided funds to help prosecute violent crimes against women; a measure to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over synthetic nicotine; and cybersecurity protections to help curb the risk of infrastructure attacks.
What didn’t make the cut? About $16 billion for Covid relief, including tests, vaccines and treatments, was stripped from the bill following last-minute disagreements over how to fund the provision—a move House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called “heartbreaking” on Wednesday as she pledged “to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance” in separate legislation slated for a vote as early as next week.
Congress failed to pass a budget for the fiscal year by the end of last September, forcing lawmakers to pass a series of temporary measures to avoid a government shutdown. An omnibus combined with a Covid relief package was signed into law in late December 2020 and set current funding levels for most federal programs, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The latest continuing resolution was enacted in mid-February to fund the government until Friday, while lawmakers hammered out disagreements.
The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for signing. He’s expected to do so before current funding is set to expire Friday evening.
“The bipartisan funding bill proves once more that members of both parties can come together to deliver results for the American people,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement late Thursday night. “It will reduce costs for families and businesses, support our economic recovery, and advance American leadership abroad.”
Senate Passes Last-Minute Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown (Forbes)
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