WASHINGTON -- The House and Senate appropriators reached a bipartisan agreement early Wednesday morning on a large bill that would fund the federal government until September and provide almost $14 billion of aid to Ukraine.
The $1.5 trillion package will be up for vote in the House on Wednesday. A vote in the Senate could follow by the end the week. This bipartisan agreement is the result of months of negotiations on Capitol Hill, which led to a long-running stalemate between Republicans and Democrats.
Nearly $13.6 billion is dedicated to Ukraine. It includes $6.5 billion for Defense Department. There are $3.5 billion to replenish equipment sent from Ukraine, and $3 billion for U.S. soldiers who support NATO in Europe. This bill would also fund humanitarian aid to Ukraine to strengthen its energy grid and combat disinformation.
Original intention was to allocate $15.6 million for the Covid pandemic response in domestic and international.
After the legislation was in trouble, however, this funding was cut.
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Speaker, stated in an Wednesday letter that Covid funding would not be included in the bill. She blamed Republicans for denying Americans "urgently required" COVID assistance.
She said, "It is very heartbreaking to see the Covid funding removed. We must continue fighting for urgently required Covid assistance but unfortunately this bill will not include that."
The legislation, which would fund the government for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal years, would allow increases in defense and non-defense spending for domestic programmes over the 2021 levels.
The Hyde Amendment was not repealed by Democrats. This policy, which prohibits federal programs such as Medicaid from paying for abortions, has been in place for decades.
Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, stated in a statement Wednesday morning that the measure would lower living costs for families and create American jobs.
She stated that "in this time of great uncertainty, change, we are tackling some our nation's greatest challenges, including making healthcare more affordable, facing the climate crisis and protecting our national security."
Senator Richard Shelby, R.Ala., is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He stated in a statement that the bill does not contain "partisan poison pills" but highlighted the increase to defense spending. He stated that the bill also provides critical emergency assistance to our allies who are resisting Russian aggression in Ukraine, without decreasing base defense funding by one dollar.
As Washington and the European Union continue their sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his allies, Democratic and Republican legislators have been keen to send billions in humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.
In the initial request by the Biden administration for $6.4 billion for emergency funding for Ukraine (which Russia invaded on February 24), The White House requested $10 billion to pay for emergency funding for Ukraine and its central European allies, Shalanda Young (acting White House budget director) wrote to Congress.
Congress has a Friday night deadline to pass the 2,700-page spending bill. This will prevent a shutdown. To give the Senate sufficient time to pass the larger bill, the House will vote on a short term funding extension.
On Tuesday, Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, stated that "this bill, the spending bill comes at a consequential time." "War in Europe has refocused Congress' energies into getting something done quickly and efficiently."