Congress passes a major spending deal to keep the government funded
Updated December 23, 2022 at 2:28 PM ET
Congress passed a nearly $1.7 trillion government funding bill Friday, sending the package to President Biden. The House voted 225-201 on the bill Friday afternoon; the Senate passed the measure on Thursday by a bipartisan vote of 68-29.
But with a prior deadline of midnight Friday to fund the government, the Senate made sure to have a stopgap measure approved, which funds the government through Dec. 30, because it will take time for the bill to make its way to Biden's desk.
"This is one of the most significant appropriations packages we have done in a very long time," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon regarding the omnibus deal. "The range of people it helps is large indeed. After a lot of hard work and compromise, the Senate is funding the government with an aggressive investment in American families, workers, and national defense."
The bill funds the military and government agencies through Sept. 30, 2023. It includes pay raises for service members and government workers, nearly $40 billion in emergency aid to areas struck by public disasters, and over $44 billion in aid for Ukraine.
The bill also makes changes to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, aimed at making it more difficult to block the certification of a presidential election. The reforms include clarifying that the vice president has a purely ceremonial role as Congress certifies presidential elections.
The package also adds policy provisions to expand federal protections for pregnant workers.
Schumer had asked senators to vote on amendments expeditiously, as the chamber raced to pass the bill ahead of the original deadline of Friday night at midnight.
Lawmakers also had a personal impetus to keep things speedy: heading home for the holidays without getting derailed by the approaching winter storm.
Ahead of the Senate vote, senators applauded outgoing Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who helped negotiate the massive spending bill.
Journey to passage
Lawmakers worked late into the night on Wednesday to advance the funding bill after attending an address to a joint meeting of Congress by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The chamber hit a snag in negotiations centered on Title 42, a pandemic-era border restriction policy that enabled the Department of Homeland Security to expel migrants crossing the border without the possibility of claiming asylum.
The policy was set to expire, but the Supreme Court issued a temporary order to keep the restrictions in place.
Republicans wanted to vote on an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, which would have blocked the Biden administration from rescinding Title 42.
Senate Democrats were concerned some centrist members might support Lee's amendment, and if it were to pass the Senate, it would essentially render the omnibus bill dead on arrival once it reached the House, where progressive Democrats support ending Title 42.
On Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently announced she is switching from Democrat to independent, offered a similar amendment aimed at increasing border funding and extending the Title 42 policy.
The political reality of having two related amendments lowered the likelihood that Lee's amendment would pass and in turn cause the omnibus to sink in the House. Both amendments ultimately failed.
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