The $1.7-trillion, 4,155-page omnibus bill was passed by the Senate with a vote of 68-29 on Thursday. Eighteen Republicans supported the bill, which was announced just a few days ago.
The House was to take up the bill, possibly on Thursday, so that it would become law before Friday night's deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Senators were in a rush to vote on the bill prior to the forecasted severe weather hitting Washington, DC, which could hinder their trips home.
“From start to finish—from top to bottom—this omnibus is bold, generous, far-reaching and ambitious,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters. “It’s not everything we would’ve wanted, of course. When you’re dealing in a bipartisan, bicameral way, you have to sit down and get it done, and that means each side has to concede some things.”
The gargantuan bill, which some have called “bloated,” includes $45 billion in aid to Ukraine, which is in addition to the $66 billion in taxpayer funds lawmakers have already granted to the Eastern European country.
With a blank check and no accounting of the money spent, American taxpayers have given more aid to Ukraine in 2022 than they did to Afghanistan, Israel, and Egypt all together in 2020. In the few months since the Ukrainian conflict began in early 2022, the amount of U.S. aid to Ukraine has exceeded that of three of the top beneficiaries of U.S. military aid in the history of the country.
A handful of Republicans attempted to block the huge spending bill. Negotiations became heated Wednesday following Senator Mike Lee's (R-UT) Title 42 amendment, which caused a rift in the Senate process. In the aftermath, many opponents of the deal were optimistic that Congress would instead pass a temporary spending resolution (CR) to ensure that the government stays open during the standoff between Democrats over Lee's amendment.
The issue was resolved when Schumer used a procedural strategy to evade Lee's amendment. Schumer collaborated with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) Thursday morning to draft a side-by-side amendment that would provide political protection for ten senators to disregard Lee's Title 42 amendment. The senators who supported the alternative amendment to provide political cover regarding Lee's amendment are noteworthy. These include senators who are running for reelection in 2024: Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tester, and Sinema.
Schumer informed reporters prior to the vote that this tactic would allow the spending plan to be approved by the Senate and senators to return home before Christmas, a deadline set by Schumer's negotiation partner, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has publicly backed the huge bill.
“Providing assistance for Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the number one priority for the United States right now, according to most Republicans. That’s sort of how we see the challenges confronting the country at the moment,” McConnell said on Tuesday.
The bill was expected to go to the House for approval. If passed, President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law within the next few days.