May 23, 2022

House approves $1.5T funding bill, includes billions in aid to Ukraine

After months of wrangling and delay, the House of Representatives managed to pass a $1.5 trillion funding bill late on Wednesday, as the Washington Examiner reports, leaving some surprised by what was contained in the measure and what was deliberately left out.

The bill will ensure that the federal government remains operational through Sept. 30 of this year, and it also allocates $13.6 billion for aid to Ukraine as that country continues to defend itself against Russian invaders.

As Fox News noted, the portion of the bill related to defense spending passed overwhelmingly, by a 361-69 margin, while the domestic component was a bit closer, passing by a vote of 260-171, with one lawmaker voting present.

According to NBC News, the dollars appropriated for the purpose of providing aid to Ukraine includes funds slated to go to the Defense Department for replenishment of equipment routed to the war-torn country and for the troops charged with helping defend NATO abroad. Humanitarian aid and support for Ukraine’s energy grid was also included in the total.

Passage of the bill allowed the House to avert a looming Friday deadline, which threatened a government shutdown, and through the passage of a short-term stopgap measure that maintains current levels of federal funding through March 15, more time was secured for the Senate to take action on the package as a whole.

Notably, an earlier iteration of the bill that was released on Wednesday morning included $15 billion in pandemic relief appropriations, but in response to pushback from Republicans and squabbling within her own party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had little choice but to delay the vote until later that day and pull the COVID-19 money from the bill, as Fox News further noted.

Not surprisingly, Pelosi lashed out at Republicans as a result of those funds being omitted from the omnibus bill, saying, that they “resisted this deeply needed funding, demanding that every cent requested by the Administration be offset,” adding, “[i]t is heartbreaking to remove the Covid funding, and we must continue to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance, but unfortunately that will not be included in this bill.”

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) stated his relief that the bill omits “partisan poison pills” and that it “provides critically needed emergency assistance for our allies that are resisting Russian aggression in Ukraine without decreasing base defense funding by a single dollar.”

The bill will now move to the upper chamber at a time Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described on Tuesday as a “consequential moment,” in that [w]ar in Europe has focused the energies of Congress into getting something done and getting it done fast, quickly.”

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