The House Just Passed a Massive Spending Bill. Here’s What’s In It
Wednesday’s House vote approved a spending package worth $1.5 trillion that funds federal government funding through September. It also sends additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
With federal domestic spending expected to rise to $715 billion, and defense funding at $782 billion respectively, the spending bill will increase funding for military personnel and almost every other non-defense agency.For the rest of fiscal year.
Two separate votes were cast by the House to approve the spending measure. The defense portion was passed by 361-69 and the non-defense section by 260-171..
After multiple Democrats opposed to allowing Congress to compensate $15.6 billion for new COVID-19 assistance with funds that had been approved, but not yet spent by relief funds, the bill failed to pass. To get the bill over the finish line, Democratic House leaders removed the COVID-19 aid provision—which sought to replenish federal health programs that provide tests, treatments, and vaccines—and now instead hope to pass a separate bill on COVID-19 relief funding next week.
The omnibus bill now heads to the Senate, where lawmakers in the upper chamber may continue negotiating elements of the bill before it heads to President Joe Biden’s desk. Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, said Tuesday that he expects a “fairly robust” and “bipartisan vote” from his colleagues, in large part due to the urgency of getting assistance to Ukraine, signaling it may be possible for the bill to clear the Senate quickly.
Here are some of the current bill’s most significant provisions.
Ukraine: $13.6 billion in aid
The package delivers nearly $14 billion in emergency funding to help address the emerging humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and shore up the country’s defense against Russia, including $4 billion for humanitarian aid, $3.5 billion for sending new military equipment and $3 billion for deploying U.S. troops to the region.
The largest segment of humanitarian aid—$2.65 billion to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—goes toward providing emergency food assistance, health care and urgent support for vulnerable populations and communities in Ukraine. USAID will fund $120 million more in support of activists, journalists, and independent media. This is to promote accountability and public messaging regarding Russian human rights violations.
$1.42 billion will be used to fund refugee aid and migration support. Ukraine: Refugee outflows. According to A.A., more than 2,000,000 Ukrainians fled Ukraine in just 13 days after Russia invaded. Tracker by the U.N. Refugee Agency. 1.76 billion will be used to help Ukraine meet macroeconomic and government needs, such as protecting the country’s electrical grid. Biden is also authorized to transfer to Ukraine an additional $3 billion worth of surplus U.S. defense equipment if required.
The Biden Administration originally called on lawmakers to approve $10 billion in aid to Ukraine, but bipartisan efforts and staunch support from the House led that figure to grow in the face of a worsening Russian onslaught and pleas from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for more equipment.
$1.5 billion in southern border assistance
Republicans won a few concessions in the bill—notably increased military spending—but they also secured more than $23 billion for two key federal agencies that oversee immigration: Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Protection (CBP).
1.45 billion will help manage the number of migrants crossing the border to the south. CBP has also allocated $1.06 million for the processing and transport facilities. $30 million will go towards new Body-worn Cameras and Video Recording Equipment for Border Patrol Stations. $72.4 Million will be spent on new sensors and aircraft.
The number of immigrants processed by U.S. border officers at the southwest border was 153 941 times in January according to CBP data. This is a 14% decline from the previous month.
$4 billion for rural development programs
After 2021’s bipartisan infrastructure billThe latest spending measure allocates $4 billion to rural development programs. It includes a $65 million investment in rural infrastructure.
From that sum, $550 million will be used to expand broadband service. $450 millions will go toward the ReConnect program which offers loans and grants for broadband construction. According to the White House, more than 30,000,000 Americans reside in areas without broadband infrastructure that can provide minimum acceptable speeds.
Further spending will go into basic infrastructure. This includes $1.45 Billion for loans to rural water and wastewater programs, and $653 M in grants to ensure safe drinking water.
Students receive $24.6 million in financial assistance
Biden demanded that higher education reforms be carried out during the State of the Union speech on March 1. This included a $2,000 Pell Grant expansion, and increased funding for community colleges and HBCUs. The spending bill partly accomplishes these goals, increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $400—the largest increase in the maximum award in more than a decade—and authorizing $363 million in HBCU funding. The bill totals $24.6 billion to federal student aid programs. This is an increase of 35 million over the prior year.
Climate Change Investments
The bill provides record funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $3.2 billion, $338 million more than the previous year—but less than what House Democrats had proposed.
This funding will be used to support clean, affordable energy production. An additional $78.3 million will fund the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to address the impacts of climate change in farming and rural communities, including research on clean energy technologies and greenhouse gas reductions. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will also receive $7.6 billion—an increase of $313.4 million compared to last year—to enable better scientific research on a variety of topics, including Earth’s changing climate.
Military pay increase of 2.7%
Recent years have witnessed steady salary increases for military families. Inflation soaringThe spending bill includes full funding for a 2.7% increase in the salary of all active-duty troops.
The annual salary for junior enlisted soldiers would be $790 less, while the salaries of senior officers could go up to $2,600. The Employment Cost Index is a federal calculation that calculates private sector wages.
$575 million needed to renew Violence Against Women Act
The bill reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act—a federal law that provides resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence—capping a years-long effort to renew the landmark legislation after it expired in 2019. This law was originally enacted in 1994. However, it fell apart in a partisan dispute about an expanded gun provision which Democrats wanted to incorporate in an updated version. Its prosecution and prevention programs will be supported by the renewed funding.