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Lawmakers unveil sweeping government funding bill to avert shutdown

Lawmakers unveil sweeping government funding bill to avert shutdown

Lawmakers early Tuesday unveiled legislative text of a massive full-year government funding bill that Congress hopes to pass to avert a shutdown at the end of the week.

The expectation on Capitol Hill is that a shutdown will be avoided, but congressional leaders have little room for error given the tight timeline they are facing. Government funding is set to expire on Friday at midnight.

The massive $1.7 trillion spending bill, known on Capitol Hill as an omnibus, would fund critical government operations across federal agencies for fiscal year 2023. The measure is the product of lengthy negotiations between top congressional Democrats and Republicans.

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees released the text of the bill, which is more than 4,000 pages, early Tuesday morning.

“The choice is clear. We can either do our jobs and fund the government, or we can abandon our responsibilities without a real path forward,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement. “Passing this bipartisan, bicameral, omnibus appropriations bill is undoubtedly in the interest of the American people. It is the product of months of hard work and compromise, and I want to thank my friends Vice Chairman Shelby and Chair DeLauro for their partnership and hard work. The House and the Senate should take up this bill and pass it without delay.”

Senate leaders are aiming to take procedural steps to pass the bill by Thursday and then send it to the House, where it is expected to be adopted, and then to President Joe Biden for his signature before the Friday deadline.

The Senate committee said in a news release that “the omnibus includes $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, including $118.7 billion – a 22 percent increase – for VA medical care, and $858 billion in defense funding. To combat the pain of inflation felt by American families across the country, the bill makes significant investments in our communities, funds critical programs supporting America’s middle class families, cares for our veterans, and invests in our national security.”

The bill also includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies, the Senate committee detailed in its news release.

Other provisions in the bill, according to Senate sources, include an overhaul of the 1887 Electoral Count Act and the Secure Act 2.0, a package aimed at making it easier to save for retirement. The bill also includes a measure to ban TikTok from federal devices.

But several key measures were not included in the plan. Legislation to allow cannabis companies to bank their cash reserves – known as the Safe Banking Act – was not included in the final bill, nor were scores of corporate and individual tax breaks, such as an extension of the expanded child tax credit, the sources said.

There was also no final resolution on where the new FBI headquarters will be located, a major point of contention as lawmakers from Maryland – namely House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer – pushed to bring the law enforcement agency into their state. In a deal worked through by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the General Services Administration would be required to conduct “separate and detailed consultations” with Maryland and Virginia representatives about potential sites in each of the states, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

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