The United States House of Representatives on Friday voted in favor of a $1.7 trillion spending bill to prevent a partial government shutdown, scheduled to take effect at midnight in Washington DC (05:00 GMT on Saturday).
The spending bill survived a Republican-led motion to stay, passing 225 to 201 along party lines. One of the last major acts of the Democratic-led Congress, it now heads to Democratic President Joe Biden’s office.
The US Senate had already approved the measure on Thursday. The passage of the bill by both houses of Congress will help prevent a shutdown that would have sent government employees on leave and closed non-essential services.
Remember what Pelosi said about Obamacare: “You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” This is exactly the same. Democrats waited until the last minute in a weak Congress to dump a 4,000-page, $2 trillion bill into the laps of the American people. https://t.co/2RUI08VXbl
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 23, 2022
“The bipartisan finance bill advances key priorities for our country and caps off a year of historic bipartisan progress for the American people,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday, adding that he would sign the bill “once it reaches my desk”.
The package includes a 10 percent increase in military spending, bringing the US military budget to $858 billion, as well as $772.5 billion for various domestic programs and $45 billion in additional military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine and NATO allies.
Republican members of the House hammered Friday at the 4,155-page bill, with California Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling it a “monstrosity.”
McCarthy will become the speaker of the House when Republicans take control of the chamber next year, following a 2022 midterm election that swept the majority in their favor.
He replaces the current speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who recently announced she would step down as leader of the Democratic Party in the House.
“It was sad to hear the minority leader say that this legislation is the most shameful thing to see on the House floor in this Congress,” Pelosi said Friday, hitting back at McCarthy’s comments. “I can’t help but wonder: Did he forget January 6?”
House Republicans had hoped to delay a vote on the spending bill until they took control next year. Before Friday’s vote, some in the party criticized that the bill would increase national debt and exacerbate inflation.
Some Republican lawmakers also expressed frustration at the $45 billion price tag for a new round of aid to Ukraine as the country continues to fight against the Russian invasion.
While US support for Ukraine enjoys strong bipartisan support, McCarthy said the Republican majority will not issue a “blank check” for Ukraine in the future.
Another California Republican, Mike Garcia, berated his fellow House members for not being physically present for the day’s vote, as they did earlier this week for a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“The fact that this week we had more members of Congress to listen to a speech by a president of a foreign nation than to vote on the annual operating budget for our entire country is cold. We have to do better,” he said.
During his trip to the US, Zelenskyy said he was confident that US support would continue.
Drawing less attention was a 10 percent increase in the country’s military spending, bringing the military budget to a record $858 billion, up from $740 billion last year. Spending on domestic programs also saw a boost of about 6 percent.
Another $40 billion was earmarked for emergency relief programs for communities across the country struggling to recover from droughts, floods, wildfires and other events.
The spending bill is expected to be the last sizeable piece of legislation passed before the new Congress convenes in January. While the Republican Party will control the House, the Democrats retain a slim majority in the Senate.
The divided Congress is expected to put an end to hopes that the Biden administration can move forward on the more ambitious aspects of the Democratic Party’s agenda, such as immigration reform and gun control.
For the past two years, the Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress has been torn by division as conservative-minded members slam initiatives on issues such as voting rights and climate change.
However, the party has successfully passed large bills for investment in infrastructure, the US technology sector and fighting climate change.