House Passes $1.7T Omnibus Spending Bill

December 23, 2022 by Dan McCue
House Passes $1.7T Omnibus Spending Bill
The Senate side of the Capitol is seen in Washington, early Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, as lawmakers rush to complete passage of a bill to fund the government before a midnight deadline Friday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — It took a little longer than expected, but a much anticipated $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package finally cleared the House Friday afternoon as members sought to avoid a partial government shutdown and conclude the work of the 117th Congress.

In the end the vote, which was originally expected to have occurred last night, was 225-201. The 4,155-page bill is now headed to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue where President Joe Biden will sign it into law.

Speaking before the vote, outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., acknowledged her words would “probably be my last speech as speaker of the House on this floor” but promised to try to make it her shortest.

“Members have planes to catch, gifts to wrap, toys to assemble, carols to sing, religious services to attend to,” she said, adding, “In terms of singing songs, one that I always think of at this time and in this setting is a British song — an English song: ‘Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, pleased to put a penny in the old man’s hat.’ 

“Yes indeed, the goose is getting fat. We have a big bill here, because we have big needs for our country,” Pelosi said. “We have the largest defense appropriation ever and, again, to help us honor our oath of office to protect and defend and what the Constitution says: ‘provide for the common defense.’ But at the same time, We’re pleased to put a penny in the old man’s hat. We address the needs of America’s working families with special focus on our children. 

“So, I rise in strong bipartisan support of this bipartisan omnibus government funding bill for us today to keep from shutting government down, but more importantly, to meet the needs of the American people,” she said. 

Though Pelosi’s words brought down the curtain on her extraordinary tenure as speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., still appeared in the midst of a campaign to replace her just days before his party takes control of the chamber.

In a blistering 25-minute long speech, McCarthy assailed the bill, appealing for the support of staunch conservatives who have said they plan to oppose his elevation to speaker next month.

Among other things, he accused the Democrats of spending too much and failing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This is a monstrosity that is one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen in this body,” McCarthy said of the spending bill.

The speech prompted Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., outgoing chairman of the House Rules Committee to observe “it’s clear he doesn’t have the votes yet,” a reference to McCarthy’s still tenuous position in regard to the speakership.

For her part, Pelosi said it was “sad to hear the minority leader earlier say that this legislation is ‘the most shameful thing to be seen on the House floor’ in this Congress. I can’t help but wonder, had he forgotten Jan. 6th? 

“Indeed, this is a day of immense patriotism. Immense patriotism. We reform the Electoral Count Act of [1887] to thwart future attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. And as I’ve said before, here in the heart of our Democracy,” she said.

But McCarthy was far from alone among Republicans opposing the bill.

Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., called passing a $1.7 trillion spending bill just days before Christmas, “government at its very worst.”

In fact, the delay was in the Senate, the House having advanced all 12 of the regular appropriations bills that make up the omnibus for fiscal year 2023 out of their committee in June.

“This over 4,000-page bill fails to address issues that matter most to the American people,” Palmer continued.

“Our border is left open during a record wave of illegal immigration. Almost $4 billion is spent on energy assistance programs while Democrats continue to vilify widely available forms of energy and drive-up costs.

“The $800 billion aimed at non-defense spending is the highest level in the history of the nation while our country is experiencing inflation at 7.1% compared to last year.

“These are just a few examples of why I cannot support this bill or the broken process that produced it,” he said.

The Senate passed the massive spending bill by a bipartisan vote of 68-29 on Thursday.

As previously reported by The Well News, the bill sent to the House this afternoon includes about $772.5 billion for domestic programs and $858 billion for defense and would finance federal agencies through the fiscal year at the end of September.

It also includes nearly $50 billion in assistance to Ukraine, easily overcoming any opposition after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s daring trip to the United States on Wednesday and his appearance before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

The bill’s passage came only hours before financing for federal agencies expires. 

Lawmakers have passed two stopgap spending measures to keep the government operating so far for this budget year and a third was set to pass Friday as well to ensure services continue until Biden could sign the measure into law.

“Today, Congress fulfilled one of its most basic responsibilities: to fund our government and keep it working for the people,” outgoing Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said. 

“I was proud to bring a sweeping, bipartisan omnibus package to the floor with full-year appropriations for 2023 and to join my Democratic and Republican colleagues in passing it through the House. 

“From rising costs and inflation to the worsening effects of natural disasters and the climate crisis, this omnibus addresses many of the most pressing issues facing Americans,” he said.

“Additionally, it protects against future assaults on our democracy like the violent insurrection we witnessed on Jan. 6, 2021, by clarifying once and for all that the vice president’s role in overseeing the count of electoral votes is purely ceremonial. Indeed, no individual can or ought to be able to overturn the American people’s will,” Hoyer continued. 

“Congress must continue to fulfill its responsibility to the American people and to the democratic ideals that we and so many others around the world hold dear, and I look forward to joining House Democrats in supporting that mission in the 118th Congress,” he said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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