Lawmakers introduce law to avoid government shutdown and strengthen Ukraine

Congressional leaders early unveiled a $1.7 trillion spending package that includes another major round of aid to Ukraine, a nearly 10% increase in defense spending and about $40 billion in support to communities at large country in recovering from droughts, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The bill includes approximately $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs and $858 billion for defense funding.

Lawmakers are working to include as many priorities as possible in what is likely to be the last major bill of the current Congress. They are racing to pass the bill before a Deadline Friday at midnight or face the prospect of a partial government shutdown over the Christmas holidays. Lawmakers leading the negotiations released the details of the bill just before 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The US has provided about $68 billion to Ukraine in previous rounds of military, economic and humanitarian aid. president Joe Biden has requested more than $37 billion more. Congress continues with Sen. Patrick Leahythe Democratic chair of the Senate Budget Committee said the spending package includes about $45 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine.

“The completion of the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical to supporting our friends in Ukraine,” said the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumera New York Democrat.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell has warned that if the fiscal 2023 spending measure fails to find bipartisan support this week, he would seek another near-term patch for next year to ensure the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives can shape the package.

Leahy argued against this approach when the bill was published, saying: “The choice is clear. We can either do our job and fund the government, or we can relinquish our responsibilities with no real way forward.”

Despite the warning, McConnell has called the longer-term spending bill a victory for the GOP, though many will no doubt vote against it. He said Republicans have been successful in increasing defense spending well beyond Biden’s desire while scaling back some of Biden’s desired increase in domestic spending.

“Congress rejects the Biden administration’s vision and does exactly the opposite,” McConnell said.

The unveiling of the bill was delayed by haggling over language related to the location of the FBI’s future headquarters. Maryland lawmakers have argued that ensuring that predominantly black communities receive their fair share of federal investment should be given more thorough consideration as part of the selection process. They advocate building the headquarters in one of two locations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.


In September, the General Services Administration released a site selection plan based on five criteria, with the highest weighting, at 35%, being proximity to the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia. Advance equity was weighted at 15%.

Sen. Chris van Hollena Maryland Democrat, told a recent forum that an executive order issued by Biden early in his tenure stressed that the issue of racial justice is not just a departmental matter, it must be a government-wide matter.

“I would argue that the GSA and FBI obviously didn’t get the message given the low weight they give to this factor,” Van Hollen said.

A Democratic Senate staffer familiar with the negotiations said Schumer has been working to include language in the spending bill to ensure the GSA administrator conducts “separate and detailed consultations” with lawmakers representing the Maryland and Virginia sites to get their perspectives.

Lawmakers are nearly three months late in finalizing the 2023 spending package. It was due to be ready by October 1st last year, when the government’s fiscal year began.

The last time Congress passed all of its spending legislation by then was in 1996, when the Senate finished its work on September 30, the very last day of the fiscal year. Then-President bill clinton signed the same day.

The Senate is expected to vote on the spending bill first, requiring the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass it before the measure is considered by the House of Representatives. As with recent spending bills to collect spending, lawmakers have expressed concerns about passing thousands of pages of legislation in the short term.

“We still haven’t seen a single page of the Pelosi-Schumer spending bill and they expect us to pass it by the end of this week,” Sen tweeted. Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida. “It’s insane.”


Republished with permission from The Associated Press. Lawmakers introduce law to avoid government shutdown and strengthen Ukraine

Callan Tansill

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