Legislators unveil bill to prevent gov’t shut down and boost Ukraine

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders unveiled a $1.7 trillion spending package early Tuesday that includes another large round of aid to Ukraine, a nearly 10% boost in defense spending and roughly $40 billon to assist communities across the country recovering from drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The bill provides funding for $858 billion of defense funding and $772.5 billion to non-defense discretionary programs.

The current Congress is expected to pass the last major bill. Lawmakers are trying to include as many priorities as possible. They are racing to pass the bill before the deadline. midnight Friday deadline Or you could face a partial shutdown of the government going into Christmas holiday. The details of the bill were released by the lawmakers who led the negotiations shortly before 2 AM Tuesday.

In previous rounds of humanitarian, military and economic assistance to Ukraine, the U.S. provided approximately $68 billion. President Joe Biden requested more than $37 billion more. Congress is taking it further with Senator Patrick Leahy the Democratic chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee. The spending package contains about $45 Billion in emergency assistance for Ukraine.

“Finalizing the omnibus is critical, absolutely critical for supporting our friends in Ukraine,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Republican leader Mitch McConnell warned that if the fiscal-year 2023 spending bill fails to win bipartisan support this week he would seek another short term patch into next year. This would guarantee that the House’s new Republican majority would shape the package.

Leahy argued against that approach in releasing the bill saying, “the choice is clear. Either we do our jobs and pay the government or we can choose to abandon our responsibilities and find a better way forward.

McConnell presented the longer-term spending bill despite the warning as a win for the GOP. Many will, undoubtedly, vote against it. He claimed that Republicans succeeded in increasing defense spending much beyond Biden requested, while cutting back some of Biden’s domestic spending.

“The Congress is rejecting the Biden administration’s vision and doing the exact opposite,” McConnell said.

Humble negotiations over the language regarding the future location of FBI headquarters delayed the bill’s unveiling. Maryland legislators have suggested that federal investments in Black communities should be considered more carefully as part of the selection process. They want to build the headquarters in one of two locations in Maryland’s Prince George’s County.

The General Services Administration released a site selection program in September. It was based on five criteria. The most important, at 35%, was the proximity to the FBI training school in Quantico, Virginia. The 15% was for advancing equity.

Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland stated at a recent forum the Biden executive order from early in his administration highlighted that the issue racial equality is not just an issue that affects one department but that it must be the concern of the entire government.

“I would submit that the GSA and the FBI clearly haven’t gotten the message, given the low weight they’ve given to this factor,” Van Hollen said.

A Senate Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations said Schumer worked to incorporate language in the spending bill ensuring the GSA administrator conduct “separate and detailed consultations” with lawmakers representing the Maryland and Virginia sites to get their perspectives.

Nearly three months late, lawmakers are close to completing the 2023 spending bill. It was supposed to be finished by last Oct. 1, when the government’s fiscal year began.

In 1996, Congress passed all of its spending bills. The Senate had finished its work on Sept. 30, which was the last day of the budget year. Bill Clinton, the then-President, signed it on that very day.

The Senate will vote first on the spending bill. It needs to be supported by at least 10 Republican senators before it can be considered by the House. Similar to recent catchall spending bill, lawmakers expressed concerns about legislation that contains thousands of pages within a very short time frame.

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

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