House passes $1.7 trillion funding package


The House passed a mammoth $1.7 trillion omnibus package on Friday, capping off weeks of drama to lock down government funding for the next fiscal year.

The bill passed largely along party lines, 225-201-1, a day after the Senate approved the bill in a bipartisan vote. The legislation now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

The bill includes $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary spending and $858 billion in defense funding.

It also includes more than $40 billion in funding to support Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, higher than what the White House requested in assistance last month, as well as $38 billion in emergency disaster assistance.

The passage comes days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s dramatic visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with President Biden and addressed Congress amid questions about whether a GOP House will remain committed to providing assistance to Ukraine.

The funding legislation includes a ban on TikTok on federal government phones, reflecting worries in both parties about how China’s government might access data about U.S. citizens through the social media platform.

And it includes legislation known as the Electoral Count Reform Act, which clarifies that the vice president’s role in certifying a presidential election is ceremonial. That measure is intended to help prevent a repeat of the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of supporters of former President Trump invaded the building and forced the evacuation of Congress.

While the bill drew broad Democratic support, only nine Republicans in the House voted for the measure. Eighteen Republicans voted for it in the Senate.

House GOP leaders whipped their members to oppose it, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) joined other members of his party in urging Senate GOP lawmakers to oppose it. Some House Republicans vowed retribution on Senate Republicans who backed the omnibus, arguing it should not have been passed because the GOP is set to take over the House in weeks.

Those House Republicans, joined by some Senate conservatives, had argued the GOP would have significantly more sway in spending decisions upon attaining the House majority in January.

While Democrats have acknowledged they wanted more for nondefense spending, the party has also touted a list of investments secured for its priorities in arguing in favor of the omnibus package.

The measure includes billions in funding for health care and research, such as $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, as well $9.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Democrats have also pointed to a $13.4 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a boost of $28.5 billion for child nutrition programs and $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Senate Republicans pushing for the bill have championed the increase in defense spending, and had argued a failure to approve an omnibus would have hurt defense programs. Without an omnibus, Congress would likely have passed a stopgap spending measure to prevent a shutdown, which would have kept funding at current levels.

The defense spending is up about 10 percent in the new bill, while the increase to the nondefense baseline was roughly half that. The annual inflation rate hit 7.1 percent last month, above the increase to nondefense spending but below the bump up for defense.

On top of the defense spending, GOP appropriators also highlighted the 4.6 percent pay raise for military members.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) touted the defense spending in defending the bill, saying that “the world’s greatest military will get the funding increase that it needs, outpacing inflation.” 

“Meanwhile, nondefense, nonveterans spending will come in below the rate of inflation, for a real-dollar cut,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean other Republicans aren’t fuming.

In a video posted online on Thursday, President Trump called the package a “disaster,” while urging all Republicans to oppose what he called a “ludicrous, unacceptable $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill” and knocking McConnell as “more of a Democrat than a Republican.”

McCarthy also trashed the bill ahead of vote, claiming that “buried in the omnibus is even more money for woke-ism in the government and the military” and funding for “left-wing pet projects.”

Some Democrats were also far from thrilled with the package, with two defections from the progressives. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voted “no” on the measure, while Rep. Rashida Tlaib voted “present.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), another prominent progressive, voted to back the omnibus on Friday, but said Congress was approving “way too much on defense.”

“It’s always a compromise. It’s one of those sort of hold your nose and vote ‘yes’ situations when it comes to the omnibus,” he said, while adding that, overall, it’s worth passing if it means funding for the party’s priorities for fiscal 2023.

“Looking at the increases in community schools, that was a huge win for us,” Bowman, a former middle school principal, said. “All of the funding we got for our community funding projects — that was also huge.”

Congress had until a Friday midnight deadline to pass funding legislation to stave off a shutdown.

House leaders had previously hoped to pass the omnibus as early as Thursday night, but the timing was put off to the next day due to the hours-long process to ready the bill, which spans thousands of pages, for a vote in the lower chamber. 

The Senate also made changes to the bill during a marathon voting session before final passage on Thursday, adopting eight amendments.

The measures include amendments that senators say would allow proceeds from assets seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs to be put toward Ukrainian aid, a measure aimed at strengthening breastfeeding protections for workers and another dealing with compensation for 9/11 terrorism victims.

Lawmakers also passed a short-term stopgap funding bill to prevent a lapse in government funding while the omnibus gets enrolled. 

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