U.S. House passes $1.7 trillion bill funding federal government through September, sending it to Biden

Politics

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addresses reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 29, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed 225 to 201 a $1.7 trillion bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, just in time to beat the midnight deadline to avoid a partial shutdown of federal agencies.

Overall, the legislation provides $772.5 billion for nondefense discretionary programs, and $858 billion in defense funding, according to a summary released earlier this week by a Senate committee. The figures represent around a 5% increase in nondefense spending, and an 8% hike for the Pentagon and national defense.

The funding measure passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday by a vote of 68-29. Now that it has been approved by the House, the bill goes to President Joe Biden, who has said he is eager to sign it into law.

The omnibus legislation’s approval in the House and Senate represents the latest bipartisan win for Biden, who has notched a number of legislative victories in the last year on bills that passed with both Republican and Democratic support.

It is also the final major achievement in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s speakership. The California Democrat plans to step down from leadership in the next Congress. By passing the federal spending package when she did, Pelosi ensured that government funding levels would be set in stone while Democrats still controlled the House. On Jan. 3, Republicans will take over the chamber.

These guaranteed funding levels include $44.9 billion in military, humanitarian and economic aid for Ukraine. That total includes money to replenish Pentagon stockpiles of weapons the U.S. sent to Ukraine, along with additional aid for NATO allies.

The House vote came just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Washington and delivered a historic speech Wednesday to a special joint meeting of Congress. Dressed in military fatigues and boots, he urged lawmakers to keep funding his country’s “war of independence” against invading Russian forces.

In addition to the Ukraine assistance, the bill provides $40 billion in new funding for states and tribal reservations to help communities recover from natural disasters, such as wildfires and major storms. It also bans the use of Tik Tok on government devices, includes $1 billion in aid to poor countries struggling with climate change and makes it easier for Americans saving for retirement.

It also contains several new amendments that were approved by the Senate on Thursday. One would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, similar to the way the Americans with Disabilities Act has been implemented.

Another notable amendment updates the fee structure for corporate mergers, so that small mergers pay lower fees and large mergers pay higher ones.

Not all of the provisions in the funding bill are directly related to government funding, however.

One piece of the law would overhaul the 1887 Electoral Count Act, a law that former President Donald Trump and his allies sought to use to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

The new version clarifies that the role of the vice president in certifying states’ electoral counts is an entirely ceremonial one, and he has no power to reject electoral votes that have been certified by individual states.

In 2020, Trump repeatedly pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the electoral votes for Biden. Pence resisted that pressure during the Jan. 6, 2021, certification process, becoming a target of the pro-Trump rioters who attacked the Capitol that day.

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