President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion funding bill on Thursday that will keep the government running until the end of the federal fiscal year in September 2023.
Biden had until late Friday to sign the package in order to avert a partial government shutdown.
The vast omnibus bill, which totaled over 4,000 pages, was preceded by a series of three short-term funding measures adopted since September to forestall shutdowns while party leaders negotiated a larger package, which resulted in the omnibus bill.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the $1.7 trillion omnibus package 225–201 on Dec. 23, one day after a bipartisan Senate vote, with significantly more Republican support, sent the bill to the lower chamber.
In the House, all but two Democrats voted yes. One voted present, and one voted no. Two hundred Republicans voted no, nine voted yes, and four did not vote. Eighteen Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the omnibus.
Biden had said passage was proof that Republicans and Democrats could work together.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted the package on the House floor, saying it costs too much and does little to protect the U.S. southern border from illegal immigration and the flow of fentanyl from Mexico.
“This is a monstrosity that is one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen in this body,” McCarthy said of the legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supported the plan, stating on the House floor before the vote that it would keep the government from shutting down and “meet the needs of the American people.”
Some House Republicans tried to push their Senate colleagues not to support the bill since the GOP would have more bargaining power once they take control of the House next year after flipping a dozen seats in the November elections.
McCarthy and other Republicans hoped that passing another short-term funding package would allow Republicans to negotiate from a position of strength following the inauguration of the next Congress.
The bill would “line the pockets of Democrats’ special interests and stick the hardworking Americans with the tab,” said McCarthy, who is trying to become the next House speaker once Republicans take control of the lower chamber in January 2023.
Due to the bill coming in at a whopping 4,000 pages, he asserted: “I’ll guarantee not a single member who will vote yes can tell you what is in it because no one has had the time to read it.”
The huge package combines 12 appropriations bills, aid to Ukraine, and disaster relief for communities affected by natural disasters.
The spending bill, in part, includes $45 billion for Ukraine, $772.5 billion for domestic initiatives (around a 6 percent increase), and $858 billion for defense programs (around a 10 percent increase). It also contains $40 billion in emergency spending, most of which will go toward helping communities across the United States in their recovery from drought, storms, and other natural disasters.
In addition to a Ukraine aid budget, which was larger than Biden requested, the massive final bill contains a slew of policy changes unrelated to spending that lawmakers fought to include, expecting a politically divided Congress next year would mean they’d have to start from scratch.
The package includes a historic modification to the Electoral Count Act to prevent a future president or presidential contender from challenging an election result. The bipartisan reform is a direct response to then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to encourage Republican lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence to object to Biden’s victory being certified on Jan. 6, 2021.
Democrats highlighted several spending increases, including a $500 increase in the maximum size of Pell grants for low-income college students, a $100 million increase in block grants to states for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, a 22 percent increase in spending on veterans’ medical care, and $3.7 billion in emergency relief for farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters.
The package also includes over $15.3 billion for over 7,200 projects requested by members for their home states and districts. New guidelines for community project financing, popularly known as earmarks, require politicians to submit their requests online and verify that they have no financial interest in the initiatives. Nonetheless, many fiscal conservatives argue that earmarking leads to wasteful spending.
Two short-term budget bills were approved by lawmakers to keep the government running, and a third, financing the government through Dec. 30, was enacted last Friday.
The omnibus spending bill was passed hours before financing for federal agencies was set to expire. Biden signed it to ensure services would continue until Congress sent him the full-year measure.
Biden signed the bill in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he is spending time with his family on the island of St. Croix.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times