One day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s dramatic speech to a joint session of Congress, the Senate approved a mammoth $1.7 trillion budget measure on Thursday that funds federal agencies through September and offers another significant round of funding to Ukraine.
Approximately $772.5 billion for domestic programs and $858 billion for defense are included in the 4,155-page plan, which would fund federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year in September.
A 68-29 approved the bill and will now head to the House for a final vote before being forwarded to President Joe Biden for signing.
Schumer declared, “This is one of the most important appropriations packages we have done in a very long time.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said, “The breadth of people it helps is vast and deep.” pronounced before the vote.
The package needed to be passed quickly since a partial government shutdown was set to start at midnight on Friday, and many lawmakers didn’t want to spend the holidays stuck in Washington due to the extreme cold.
A new GOP-controlled House could make it more challenging to get a spending agreement the following year, so many people want to secure government financing now.
On Wednesday night, Zelenskyy spoke to senators about the value of American assistance to his nation in preparation for its fight with Russia.
The package gives the devastated country and NATO allies roughly $45 billion in military, economic, and humanitarian aid—more than Biden even asked for—bringing the total amount of assistance to more than $100 billion.
Zelenskyy warned lawmakers and Americans watching from home, “Your money is not charity.” It’s an investment in the democracy and security of the world that we manage responsibly.
The adjustments that needed to be voted on to lock in a final vote expeditiously were disputed by lawmakers.
The deadlocks might have prevented the bill’s passage before the deadline of Friday night at midnight.
However, a breakthrough in negotiations throughout the night allowed senators to gather early on Thursday morning and work through more than a dozen changes before the vote.
Schumer and Mitch McConnell, the head of the Senate Republican Party, both favor the spending plan, albeit for different reasons.
According to McConnell, the 10% increase in defense spending in the measure will provide the American Armed Forces with the funds and protection they need to maintain the nation’s safety.
The largest military in the world will receive the necessary funding increase, exceeding inflation, according to McConnell.
However, non-defense, non-veteran spending will be lower than inflation, resulting in an absolute dollar reduction.
Republicans who oppose the spending plan and feel compelled to vote on such a large package so soon before a potential shutdown and the Christmas break resisted McConnell’s efforts.
“This measure hasn’t had enough time to be read by one person. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, claimed that the bill and the procedure “ignore our burgeoning $31 trillion debt, rising interest rates, and skyrocketing inflation.” “I’ve had enough.”
The bill puts the finishing touches on the work of two senators in Washington.
After 48 years in the Senate and as the current chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, has announced his retirement. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican, elected to the Senate in 1986 and retiring, spent months negotiating the plan.
Schumer remarked, “What a climax to a tremendous career.”
Additionally, the law includes about $40 billion in emergency spending for the United States, most of which would go toward helping towns across the nation recover from drought, storms, and other natural disasters.
And, of course, it contains several non-spending policy changes that lawmakers sought to include in what would be the last big package of the current Congress lest they have to start over the next year in a divided Congress with Republicans regaining the majority in the House.
One of the most noteworthy instances was a historic amendment to the federal election code that forbids present or future presidents or candidates for president from attempting to rig a vote.
The Electoral Count Act has undergone a bipartisan overhaul due to former President Donald Trump’s attempts to persuade Republican senators and then-Vice President Mike Pence to oppose the certification of Biden’s victory on January 6, 2021.