House passes $1.7 trillion government spending bill as funding deadline looms

The House voted Friday to pass a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill that would fund critical government operations across federal agencies and provide emergency aid for Ukraine and natural disaster relief. The bill will next go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

Government funding is currently set to expire late Friday evening – and lawmakers raced the clock to clear the measure before the deadline. The Senate passed the legislation on Thursday along with a bill to extend the deadline by one week, to December 30, to provide enough time for the yearlong bill to be formally processed and sent to Biden. The House also approved the one-week extension and Biden signed it into law on Friday, ensuring there will not be a shutdown.

The massive spending bill for fiscal year 2023, known on Capitol Hill as an omnibus, provides $772.5 billion for non-defense, domestic programs and $858 billion in defense funding. It includes roughly $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies and roughly $40 billion to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires and flooding.

Other key provisions in the bill include an overhaul of the 1887 Electoral Count Act aimed at making it harder to overturn a certified presidential election – the first legislative response to the US Capitol insurrection and then-President Donald Trump’s relentless pressure campaign to stay in power despite his 2020 loss.

Among other provisions, 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.

The legislative text of the package, which runs more than 4,000 pages, was released in the middle of the night – at around 1:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday – leaving little time for rank-and-file lawmakers, and the public, to review its contents before it came up for a vote in both chambers.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy criticized $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill in a floor speech ahead of the House vote.

“This is a monstrosity. It is one of the most shameful acts I have ever seen in this body,” the California Republican said. “The appropriations process has failed the American public, and there is no greater example of the nail in the coffin of the greatest failure of a one-party rule of the House, the Senate, and the presidency of this bill here.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later spoke in favor of the spending bill while noting that the moment would “probably be my last speech as speaker of the House on this floor, and I’m hoping to make it my shortest.”

The California Democrat took issue with McCarthy’s floor comments, saying she was “sad to hear the minority leader earlier say this legislation is the most shameful thing to be seen on the House floor in this Congress.”

“I can’t help but wonder, had he forgotten January 6?” she asked, a reference to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

The giant government funding bill initially stalled in the Senate in the days following its release over a GOP amendment regarding the Trump-era immigration policy, Title 42, that could have sunk the entire $1.7 trillion legislation in the Democratic-controlled House.

GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah insisted on getting a vote on his amendment to keep in place the immigration policy that allows migrants to be turned back at the border, which Republicans strongly support. Because Lee’s measure was expected to be set at a simple majority threshold, there was concern it would pass and be added to the government funding bill as several centrist Democrats back extending the policy – only for it to later be rejected in the House.

But senators had a breakthrough in negotiations Thursday morning.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jon Tester of Montana wrote an amendment in an attempt to give moderates an alternative way to vote in support of extending Title 42, which the administration and most Democrats want to get rid of.

As expected, both amendments did not pass. Lee’s amendment to extend the Trump-era immigration policy failed 47-50. The Democratic alternate version from Sinema-Tester went down 10-87.

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