Congress Passes $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill to Fund Government Operations and Provide Emergency Aid

The US House of Representatives has passed a $1.7 trillion spending bill that will fund various federal agencies and provide emergency aid to Ukraine and natural disaster relief. The bill, known as an omnibus, will be signed into law by President Joe Biden. This bill will provide $772.5 billion for non-defense domestic programs and $858 billion for defense funding. It includes roughly $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies and around $40 billion for natural disaster response. The spending bill also includes the Secure Act 2.0, a package aimed at making it easier to save for retirement, and a measure to ban TikTok from government devices.

Government Shutdown Averted

Government funding was set to expire late Friday evening, but the Senate passed legislation on Thursday to extend the deadline by one week to December 30. The House also approved the extension and President Biden signed it into law, ensuring that there will not be a government shutdown.

Controversy and Criticism

The legislative text of the spending bill, which is over 4,000 pages long, was released in the middle of the night, leaving little time for lawmakers and the public to review its contents before it was voted on. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy criticized the bill in a floor speech, calling it a "monstrosity" and "one of the most shameful acts I have ever seen in this body." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the bill, but also noted that this would "probably be my last speech as speaker of the House on this floor."

Senate Passage and Title 42 Amendment

The government funding bill faced initial hurdles in the Senate due to an amendment regarding the Trump-era immigration policy, Title 42, which could have jeopardized the entire legislation in the Democratic-controlled House. However, senators reached a compromise on Thursday with an amendment written by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Jon Tester that allowed centrist Democrats to support the extension of Title 42. Both amendments ultimately did not pass, and the spending bill was able to move forward.

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