Lawmakers introduce $1.7 trillion government funding bill to avoid shutdown



CNN

Top lawmakers from both parties unveiled their long-awaited $1.7 trillion government funding package early Tuesday, a move that leaves Congress with little time to revise a massive bill before they are forced to to vote to pass it or risk a government shutdown.

The expectation on Capitol Hill is that a shutdown will be avoided, but congressional leaders have little room for error given the tight schedule they face. Government funding expires at midnight on Friday.

The massive spending bill, known on Capitol Hill as the omnibus, would fund critical government operations at federal agencies through fiscal year 2023. It provides $772.5 billion for non-defense domestic programs and $858 billion in funding defense It also includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies and roughly $40 billion in natural disaster relief, according to a statement from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The legislative text, which is more than 4,000 pages long, was released in the middle of the night, around 1:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, leaving little time for rank-and-file lawmakers and the public to review its content before then. Congress plans to vote to approve it.

In a partisan political environment where bipartisan action often doesn’t happen without immense time pressure, it has become the norm in recent years on Capitol Hill to release massive funding bills at the eleventh hour and then proceed to introduce them in both chambers. That has drawn criticism and complaints from lawmakers who say the process is rushed and secretive and doesn’t operate as transparently as it should.

Senate leaders aim to take procedural steps to pass the bill by Thursday and then send it to the House, where it is expected to pass, and then to President Joe Biden for signature before Friday deadline.

Other provisions in the bill, according to Senate sources, include an overhaul of the Election Counting Act of 1887 and Safeguard Act 2.0, a package aimed at making it easier to save for retirement. The bill also includes a measure to ban TikTok from federal devices.

sense Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, formally announced the inclusion of the Voter Counting Act reforms on Tuesday.

“We are pleased that our legislation was included in the omnibus appropriations bill and are grateful to have the support of so many of our colleagues. We look forward to this bill being signed into law,” they said the senators in a joint statement.

The spending bill is the product of lengthy negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans in Congress. And negotiators are now calling for quick approval of the measure.

“The choice is clear. We can do our jobs and fund the government, or we can walk away from our responsibilities without a real path forward,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said in a statement. “Passage of this bipartisan, bicameral, omnibus appropriations bill is undoubtedly in the best interest of the American people.”

Republicans are highlighting the money secured for defense after a bipartisan dispute over how much money should be spent on non-defense domestic priorities.

GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement: “From day one, I have insisted on increasing defense funding well above the president’s request without similar increases in liberal spending not on defense”.

“This process was far from perfect, but it finally made it possible to meet Republican red lines, and that’s why I will urge my colleagues to support this package. We have to do our job and fund the government,” he said.

Several key measures were not included in the plan. Sources said legislation to allow cannabis companies to deposit their cash reserves, known as the Safe Banking Act, was not included in the final bill, nor were numerous corporate and individual tax breaks, such as an extension of the child tax credit. . .

There was also no final resolution on where the new FBI headquarters will be located, a major point of contention as Maryland lawmakers, namely House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, pressed to bring law enforcement agency to his state. In a deal worked out by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the General Services Administration would have to conduct “separate and detailed consultations” with representatives from Maryland and Virginia about potential sites in each state, according to a Democratic aide to senate

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