Congress releases spending bill to fund government through September
The Senate is expected to vote on the spending bill first, with at least 10 Republican votes needed to pass it and send it to the House
Congress released a new bipartisan spending bill early Tuesday morning that would fund the government through next fall.
Federal spending will be increased from the last fiscal year under the bill, and it will allocate $858 billion in military spending and more than $772 billion for domestic programs for the remainder of the fiscal year that ends in September.
The $1.7 trillion legislation includes sending additional funds to Ukraine to support its ongoing war with Russia, election reforms intended to clarify a vice president's role in certifying electoral votes and to avoid a repeat of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
"Finalizing the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical for supporting our friends in Ukraine," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, said.
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The bill will also provide $40 billion to assist U.S. communities recovering from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
This is expected to be the last major bill of the current Congress. Lawmakers are trying to pass the spending package before midnight on Friday to avoid the potential of a partial government shutdown heading into Christmas.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had said he would look for a short-term package in the new year if the spending measure fails to gain bipartisan support this week. This would guarantee that the new Republican House majority would get to shape the legislation.
Still, McConnell suggested the newly released spending package was a victory for Republicans, even as many in the party are expected to vote against it. He said Republicans were able to successfully add increased defense spending that goes beyond what President Biden requested while also scaling back some domestic spending on the president's list of priorities.
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"The Congress is rejecting the Biden administration's vision and doing the exact opposite," McConnell said.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., would like to delay the spending package until Republicans take control of the House in the next Congress.
The 2023 spending package comes nearly three months after it was supposed to be completed. The goal was for it to be finished by October 1, the day the government’s fiscal year began.
However, the late completion is not out of the ordinary, as the last time Congress enacted all its spending bills by the start of the fiscal year was in 1996 when the Senate finished its work on Sept. 30, the last day of the budget year.
The bill's release was delayed hours over contention between Maryland and Virginia about language regarding the location of the FBI’s future headquarters.
The bill also would ban the downloading of TikTok on government-issued smartphones and other devices, expanding to all government devices a ban currently imposed by the Pentagon and some other U.S. agencies.
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Some wishlist items that Democrats were pushing for but were excluded from the package include immigration provisions, cannabis banking measures and a child tax credit expansion.
The Senate is expected to vote on the spending bill first, but Democrats will need the support from at least 10 Republicans to pass it and send it to the House.
"I’m confident both sides can find things in it that they can enthusiastically support," Schumer said.