On Wednesday, Democrats began pushing a $13.6 billion aid package for embattled Ukraine and European allies through the House as part of a $1.5 trillion bipartisan deal to fund federal agencies for the remainder of the year.
The funds to resist the Russian blitzkrieg that has wrecked sections of Ukraine and sparked Europe’s largest refugee flight since World War II insured that the whole bill would pass with bipartisan backing. Last week, President Joe Biden requested $10 billion for military, humanitarian, and economic aid, and congressional support was so strong that the total ballooned to $13.6 billion in only days.
“The people of Ukraine are courageously standing up for freedom,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said as debate began. “Congress, the Biden administration and the people of the United States must stand with them.”
The 2,741-page bill was expected to pass the House on Wednesday and the Senate by the end of the week, though the Senate’s specific timeline was unknown.
However, early difficulties with the bill, which includes $15.6 billion to continue fighting the pandemic, were discovered. Democratic leaders were attempting to settle rank-and-file misgivings that some COVID-19 spending would be offset by changes to already approved pandemic money to states, though the disagreement appeared unlikely to defeat the package.
The urgency of assisting Ukraine before Russia’s military strength makes it too late pushed lawmakers to act immediately. They also faced a Friday deadline to pass the government-wide spending bill or risk a weekend federal closure during an election year. As a precaution against more delays, the House intended to pass a bill on Wednesday that would keep agencies operating until March 15.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said of the bill, “At the end of the day, it offers a good balance for Congress and the nation.”
Over $4 billion in Ukraine aid was intended to assist the country and Eastern European countries in coping with the 2 million refugees who have already fled the conflict. Another $6.7 billion was set aside for the deployment of US soldiers and equipment in the region, as well as the transfer of US military assets to Ukraine and US allies. There was also money set aside for economic help and the enforcement of economic sanctions against Russia.
Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the bill would provide credit guarantees to Poland to assist it replace planes it is sending to Ukraine. Getting Democrats to agree to some defence funding has been “like pulling teeth,” he claimed. “It’s a crucial step,” McConnell added. It must be approved. It must be passed as soon as possible.”
The bipartisan support for Ukraine funding was just one example of Congress’ desire to assist the struggling country, but not all of it has been pleasant.
Republicans charged Biden with moving too slowly to assist Ukraine and NATO allies while also imposing sanctions on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Democrats objected that more time was required to bring European allies who significantly rely on Russian energy suppliers on board. And, until Biden indicated Tuesday that he would do it on his own, a bipartisan effort to prohibit Russian oil imports had been practically unstoppable.
Both parties won a victory as a result of the massive total bill. It allocates $730 billion for domestic programmes, which is 6.7 percent higher than last year and the largest increase in four years for Democrats. Republicans received $782 billion in defense funding, up 5.6 percent from the previous year.Last March, Biden suggested a 16 percent boost for domestic programmes and a less than 2% rise for defence, figures that were doomed from the start due to Democrats’ narrow congressional majorities.
The bill was also spurred by a huge number of local projects for MPs from both parties, which had been forbidden since 2011 but were reinstated this year. Money for courthouses in Connecticut and Tennessee, as well as repairs to a post office in West Virginia, is included in the spending, which was originally known as earmarks but is now known as community projects. It also dedicates a government facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Sen. Richard Shelby, the state’s senior Republican senator and the bill’s major author, who is retiring after six terms.Democrats obtained a new round of funding for COVID-19 vaccinations, tests, and treatments, including $5 billion to combat the epidemic globally. That was less than Biden’s request of $22.5 billion.
Republicans said they pushed Democrats to pay the full amount by withholding funds from past COVID-19 relief measures. Much of the money was supposed to go to states and businesses to help them deal with the pandemic’s effects.Child care, job training, economic development in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and more substantial Pell grants for low-income undergraduates have all received additional funding. Increases would be made to public health and biomedical research, including $194 million for Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” campaign to cure the disease.
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Citizenship and Immigration Services would receive funding to help alleviate massive backlogs of persons attempting to enter the United States. There would be new measures to boost renewable energy and reduce pollution, some of which would be targeted explicitly towards minority populations.The bill has been passed “House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn, said the bill “delivers transformative federal investments to help cut the cost of living for working people, generate American jobs, and provide a lifeline for the vulnerable.”
The bill renews programs that protect women from domestic violence and compels many infrastructure operators to notify federal authorities about large cyber threats and ransomware demands. Extremist ideology inside the ranks would have to be reported to the Defense Department.The bill keeps in place severe prohibitions on using federal funds for nearly all abortions, which have been in place for decades. It comprises $300 million in military aid for Ukraine, as well as $300 million for neighboring countries including the Baltic states and Poland. Military personnel would receive a 2.7 percent salary hike, and Navy shipbuilding would be boosted as a deterrent to China.
It “rejects leftist initiatives while effectively addressing Republican priorities,” according to the report “Shelby, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Republican, stated as much.Agencies have been operating on expenditure levels agreed during Donald Trump’s final weeks in the White House since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1.