House Passes $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill With $14 Billion For Ukraine Aid—But No Covid Relief

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With the government set to run out of funding in days, the House on Wednesday passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that will shore up funding for the rest of the fiscal year upon Senate approval, while also doling out cash for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, additional student aid, cybersecurity and more.

The massive spending package, which would appropriate funds for the government until September 30, passed the House on Wednesday evening in largely bipartisan votes of 361 to 69 for the defense portion of the bill and 260 to 171 for non-defense spending.

Headlining the 2,741-page bill, about $730 billion is allocated for military spending under the Defense Department, while an additional $125 billion has been allocated to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to funding day-to-day government operations, the bill appropriates about $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion, with $4 billion to help displaced refugees, $6.5 billion for military assistance and $1.8 billion for any macroeconomic needs, according to the House Committee on Appropriations.

It also grants agency requests for a number of new provisions, including a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, and nearly $7 billion to establish an agency under the National Institutes of Health tasked with building “high-risk, high-reward” technologies for disease research.

Among other provisions are the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 1994 and provided funds to help prosecute violent crimes against women; a measure to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over synthetic nicotine; and cybersecurity protections to help curb the risk of infrastructure attacks.

What didn’t make the cut? About $16 billion for Covid relief, including tests, vaccines and treatments, was stripped from the bill following last-minute disagreements over how to fund the provision—a move House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called “heartbreaking” on Wednesday as she pledged “to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance” in separate legislation slated for a vote next week.

The spending bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he hopes to pass the legislation before Friday, when funds were previously set to run out. In case the upper chamber needs more time, the House unanimously passed a continuing resolution Wednesday to extend stopgap funding for an additional four days, until Tuesday. The measure would still need to be approved in the Senate to prevent a government shutdown.

Congress failed to pass a budget for the fiscal year by the end of last September, forcing lawmakers to pass a series of temporary measures to avoid a government shutdown. An omnibus combined with a Covid relief package was signed into law in late December 2020 and set current funding levels for most federal programs, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The latest continuing resolution was enacted in mid-February to fund the government until Friday, while lawmakers hammered out disagreements.

Senate Passes Last-Minute Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown (Forbes)

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