Biden signs $1.7 trillion bill to fund government operations
KINGSHILL, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a $1.7 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government operating through the end of the federal budget year in September 2023 and provide tens of billions of dollars in new aid to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian military.
Biden had until Friday night to sign the bill to avoid a partial government shutdown.
The Democratic-controlled House passed Bill 225-201, mostly along party lines, just before Christmas. The House vote came a day after the Senate, also led by Democrats, voted 68 to 29 to pass the bill with much more Republican support.
Biden had said the passage was proof that Republicans and Democrats can work together.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader who hopes to become president when a new session of Congress opens on Jan. 3, argued during a floor debate that the bill overspends and does too little to curb illegal immigration and the flow of fentanyl into the United States from Mexico.
« It’s a monstrosity that is one of the most heinous acts I’ve ever seen in this body, » McCarthy said of the legislation.
McCarthy is appealing for support from staunch conservatives in the GOP caucus, who have widely criticized the bill for its size and scope. Republicans will have a narrow majority in the House on Jan. 3, and several conservative members have vowed not to vote for McCarthy to become president.
The funding bill includes an increase of about 6% in spending for national initiatives, to $772.5 billion. Spending on defense programs will increase by about 10% to $858 billion.
The passage was secured hours before federal agency funding expired. Lawmakers had approved two short-term spending measures to keep the government running, and a third, funding the government until Dec. 30, was passed last Friday. Biden signed it to ensure services would continue until Congress sent him the full-year measure, called the omnibus bill.
The massive bill, which spans more than 4,000 pages, consolidates 12 appropriations bills, aid to Ukraine and disaster relief for communities recovering from natural disasters. It also contains dozens of policy changes that lawmakers have been working to include in the latest major bill considered by this session of Congress.
Lawmakers have provided about $45 billion to Ukraine and NATO allies, more than even Biden asked for, acknowledging that future rounds of funding aren’t guaranteed when Republicans take control of the House next week after the party’s gains in the midterm elections.
Although support for Ukraine aid has been largely bipartisan, some House Republicans have opposed the spending and argued that the money would be better spent on priorities in the United States.
McCarthy warned that Republicans would not write a « blank check » for Ukraine in the future.
The bill also includes about $40 billion in emergency spending, mostly to help communities across the United States recover from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The White House said it received the bill from Congress late Wednesday afternoon. It was delivered to Biden for his signature by White House staff on a scheduled commercial flight.
Biden signed the bill Thursday in the US Virgin Islands, where he is spending time with his wife, Jill, and other family members on St. Croix Island. The Bidens are staying with friends Bill and Connie Neville, the White House said. Bill Neville is the owner of US Viking, maker of ENPS, a news production software system sold by The Associated Press.
The bill also contains dozens of policy changes that are largely unrelated to spending, but lawmakers worked hard behind the scenes to secure the addition to the bill, which was the last piece of legislation to emerge. of this session of Congress. Otherwise, lawmakers sponsoring those changes would have had to start from scratch next year in a politically divided Congress in which Republicans return to a majority in the House and Democrats continue to control the Senate.
One of the most notable examples was a landmark overhaul of federal election law to prevent a future president or presidential candidate from attempting to overturn an election.
The bipartisan overhaul of the voter count law is a direct response to then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Republican lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence to oppose the certification of Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021, Trump’s Day. -inspired insurrection at the Capitol.
Among the spending increases highlighted by Democrats: a $500 increase in the maximum amount of Pell grants for low-income students, a $100 million increase in block grants to states for programs to prevent and treat drug addiction, a 22% increase in spending for veterans. medical care and $3.7 billion in emergency aid for farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters.
The bill also provides about $15.3 billion for more than 7,200 projects lawmakers have sought for their home states and districts. Under the revamped rules for funding community projects, also known as earmarks, legislators must post their applications online and certify that they have no financial interest in the projects. Yet many fiscal conservatives criticize earmarking as leading to unnecessary spending.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.
Darlene Superville, Associated Press