WASHINGTON — The U.S. House will debate and vote on Friday the $1.7 trillion omnibus package to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year after the Senate amended and passed it Thursday.
The 4,155-page bill contains $858 billion for defense spending and $772.5 billion for nondefense programs, including $1 billion to cover looming World Trade Center Health Program funding shortfalls and $3 billion for children and spouses of 9/11 victims.
“This is one of the most significant appropriations packages we have done in a very long time. The range of people that it helps is large and deep,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after the Senate passed the bill in a 68-29 vote.
"And it’s fitting that we’re ending the 117th Congress by protecting our democracy through reforming the Electoral Count Act," Schumer said, by making clear the vice president has no authority to reject states’ electors, as former President Donald Trump had insisted.
WHAT TO KNOW
- The $1.7 trillion package includes aid for Ukraine and funding to keep the U.S. government operating through September.
A $1 billion amendment for the World Trade Center Health Program will cover looming funding shortfalls for the next five years.
The House's Democratic majority is expected to pass the bill as one of the last acts overseen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Democratic majority in the House is expected to pass the sprawling spending bill as one of the last acts overseen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who will step down as the House Democrats’ leader after serving in that role for two decades.
The omnibus includes $45 billion for Ukraine in military, economic and humanitarian assistance, a measure urged by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his address to Congress Wednesday night.
The omnibus package contains not only funding to keep the federal government in operation through Sept. 30, 2023, but also money for lawmakers’ earmarks and other priorities, some of them added in 17 amendments the Senate considered Thursday.
After omnibus negotiators left out a $3.6 billion measure to fully fund its shortfalls, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Schumer struck a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for the $1 billion amendment for the World Trade Center Health Program.
Without additional funding, the health program would have to start cutting back on services in October 2024. The funding will cover shortfalls for the next five years.
The amendment also includes money for research on the impact of 9/11 toxins on children throughout their lives, but will not extend to responders and survivors of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, as her original measure did.
Congress created the health program with the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and extended it to 2090 five years later, but inflation and higher use than projected created a gap in funding.
"This amendment will extend it so it now can last another full five years," Schumer said.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected. "Is there no end to the amount of money you think we can print without repercussions?”
The amendment passed 90-6.
Schumer also argued for an amendment adding the Fairness to 9/11 Families amendment, sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), to the omnibus.
It provides $6 billion of unused pandemic funds to be split between compensation for children and spouses of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, and victims of the 1983 attacks on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers.
Paul also urged a no vote for that amendment, but the Senate approved it in a 93-4 vote.
"Families of 9-11 and other terror victims are getting long overdue justice with the bill passed today by the Senate," said Angela Mistrulli, of Eau Claire, Wis., and a former Wantagh resident whose father died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
"During this cold holiday season, there will be a little more warmth and a lot of relief to have this yearslong mistake finally corrected," she said.