Midnight Secret Spenders
The House is set to vote Wednesday [March 9] on a long-delayed $1.5 trillion spending bill that would fund the U.S. government through the rest of the fiscal year and provide $13.6 billion to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Lawmakers released the text of the 2,741-page measure earlier in the day before scheduled mid-day votes on the package, with the Senate looking to vote before the end of the day Friday. To pass the bill, House Democrats have set up separate votes on the defense-related and domestic portions because progressives are refusing to back the defense increase and Republican votes will be needed.
The House also plans to vote on another stopgap spending bill, continuing government funding at current levels through March 15 to give the Senate time to deal with the full-year legislation.
The legislation would provide $730 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, a 6.7% increase and a win for Democrats, while Republicans were able to negotiate a 5.6% increase for defense spending over fiscal 2021, bringing it to $782 billion.
The military spending is far more than progressive Democrats and the White House wanted. The annual spending for Pentagon alone comes out to $743.4 billion, $28.4 billion above the president’s request of $715 billion for the year.
Congress added to the $10 billion the Biden administration initially requested to handle the Russia-Ukraine war. In a last minute compromise, funding for pandemic-related measures was cut from the from the $22.5 billion the administration wanted, to $15.6 billion.
“This bill overall is a big improvement from where we were a month ago,” Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said. “We’ve got parity for defense dollar wise.”
The bill also “meets the needs of Ukraine,” he said.