On Wednesday, House lawmakers approved a roughly $1.5 trillion spending package to fund the U.S. government and ward off a potential shutdown while providing Ukraine humanitarian, economic, and military assistance.
The spending bill’s passage was the culmination of a tumultuous day on Capitol Hill days before a potential government shutdown. In a separate vote, the House displayed bipartisan support for the sanctions against Russia, which limit its oil exports.
Now the Senate has until Friday night to pass the 2,741-page bill to avoid a government shutdown.
The bill was initially set to include $15 billion in the package to augment the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as mentioned by President Biden during the State of The Union. However, the House did not approve that package as part of the final bill. The removal of the COVID-19 spending package signals a significant setback for the Biden administration. The administration had petitioned Congress for weeks to approve additional funds to prepare for the possibility of a worsening public-health crisis.
The approved spending bill increases federal healthcare, public education, scientific research, and defense spending programs. It is designed to provide funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs through the end of September.
The bill approves domestic spending at a level of about $730 billion to boost domestic agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education. The bill also expands funding for the Internal Revenue Service to reduce its backlog of tax returns. It also provides resources for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes for the first time.
Additionally, the bill provides the Department of Defense with $742 billion in funding to bolster national security. The defense spending includes $845 million for the Strategic National Stockpile and $745 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
The bill will raise congressional office budgets for House lawmakers by 21%, giving House staff a pay raise. Additionally, the bill provides $602.5 million for the U.S. Capitol Police to help hire more officers.
The bill provides the National Cancer Institute with $353 million, going to the President’s so-called cancer moonshot under the ARPA-H project.
The bill also provides nearly $14 billion in new aid to Ukraine. The financial package aims to deliver military support, assist with needs related to the growing refugee crisis, assist the needs of NATO allies, and enforce sanctions against Russia.
Aside from the disagreement over removing COVID-19 pandemic response funding, the spending bill was passed with urgency. It now awaits Senate review and approval before heading to President Biden for a final authorization.