The House approved a $1.5 trillion spending package that increased funding for swaths of the federal government, helping the United States stave off the threat of a shutdown and send the bill to the Senate after a democratic confrontation.
The two-part, mostly bipartisan vote capped a tumultuous day on Capitol Hill that saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi face a rebellion from within her own ranks for using past stimulus aid to cover additional pandemic-related expenses.
Republicans and Democrats reached a long-awaited deal to increase national and military spending in the package, which is made up of 12 separate bills. The legislation contained $730 billion in non-military funding to boost health, education and science programs and $782 billion in defense spending. Both represented modest increases from the previous fiscal year and the measure would keep the government‘s doors open until September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
The 2,741-page bill was one of the biggest expenses in history. It was released in the very early hours of Wednesday morning after months of protracted negotiations and last-minute haggling over a series of spending packages. Lawmakers also approved a four-day funding patch to give the Senate more time to process the bill.
But many grassroots Democrats opposite Pelosi after learning that the bill clawed back state stimulus funds to offset about half of the $15 billion intended to be spent on novel coronavirus aid, mostly vaccines and preparing for a future pandemic. The revolt forced her to cut funding and push a standalone measure to a later date that is all but Senate-bound given GOP resistance to additional spending.
Pelosi acknowledged that Democrats ultimately didn’t get everything they wanted, especially on coronavirus aid. The Biden administration initially requested $30 billion in additional funding, only to have their request dropped in Pelosi’s latest push to save the rest of the package.
“We have a heated negotiation. It has to be bipartisan,” Pelosi said earlier on Wednesday. “We wanted it to be bipartisan. But in the Senate, you need 60 votes.”
The law also set aside $13.6 billion in emergency humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine, a top priority of the White House and Congress. The amount has gradually increased, with many lawmakers from both parties keen to provide financial and military aid to Ukraine, especially as Russia’s military campaign has intensified in recent days.
About $6.5 billion of that amount of money was set aside to help Ukraine strengthen its defenses, and another $4 billion would go to the State Department so it could funnel funds to the helping migrants, among other uses.
The bill contained an additional $12 billion for the Internal Revenue Service ahead of a tax season that experts say will further strain the agency. The money was spent helping the IRS sort through a massive backlog of paper returns and modernizing some of its systems. Democrats said it was the biggest injection of federal funding in two decades.
Republicans and Democrats seemed happy with the measures guaranteed in the package. Throughout the process, Democrats have pushed for increased domestic spending while Republicans have pushed for similar increases in Pentagon spending.
Both sides broke the deadlock with political victories, which allowed them to avoid another brief period of spending. “In this time of great uncertainty and change, we are tackling some of our country’s greatest challenges, including making health care more affordable, addressing the climate crisis, and protecting our national security,” the representative said. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. , said in a statement.
“This compromise is not the bill Republicans would have written on their own,” the Kentucky Republican said. “But I’m proud of the major concessions we got from this all-Democrat government.”