NATIONAL NEWS

Top lawmakers reach deal on Ukraine aid, $1.5T spending

Mar 9, 2022, 7:24 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:38 pm
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) speaks as Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (R)...
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) speaks as Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (R) listens during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats gathered for a weekly policy luncheon to discuss Democratic agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal early Wednesday providing $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies plus billions more to battle the pandemic as part of an overdue $1.5 trillion measure financing federal agencies for the rest of this year.

Though a tiny fraction of the massive bill, the money countering a Russian blitzkrieg that’s devastated parts of Ukraine and prompted Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II ensured the measure would pass with robust bipartisan support. President Joe Biden requested $10 billion for military, humanitarian and economic aid last week, and Democratic and Republican backing was so staunch that the figure grew to $12 billion Monday and $13.6 billion just a day later.

“We’re going to support them against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation,” Biden said at the White House.

Party leaders planned to whip the 2,741-page measure through the House on Wednesday and the Senate by week’s end, though that chamber’s exact timing was unclear. Lawmakers were spurred by the urgency of helping Ukraine before Russia’s military might makes it too late.

They also faced a Friday deadline to approve the government-wide spending measure or face a weekend election-year federal shutdown. As a backstop against delays, the House planned to pass a bill Wednesday keeping agencies afloat through March 15.

Over $4 billion of the Ukraine aid was to help the country and Eastern European nations cope with the 2 million refugees who’ve already fled the fighting. Another $6.7 billion was for the deployment of U.S. troops and equipment to the region and to transfer American military items to Ukraine and U.S. allies, and there was economic aid and money to enforce economic sanctions against Russia as well.

“War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the measure would provide loan guarantees to Poland to help it replace aircraft it is sending Ukraine. “It’s been like pulling teeth” to get Democrats to agree to some of the defense spending, he said. But he added, “It’s an important step. It needs to be passed. It needs to be passed quickly.”

The bipartisan rallying behind the Ukraine aid was just one manifestation of Congress’ eagerness to help the beleaguered country, though not all of it has been harmonious.

Republicans accused Biden of moving too slowly to help Ukraine and NATO allies and to impose sanctions against Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Democrats countered that time was needed to bring along European allies that rely heavily on Russian energy sources. And a bipartisan push to ban Russian oil imports had become nearly unstoppable before Biden announced Tuesday that he would do that on his own.

The huge overall bill was stocked with victories for both parties.

For Democrats, it provides $730 billion for domestic programs, 6.7% more than last year, the biggest boost in four years. Republicans won $782 billion for defense, 5.6% over last year’s levels.

In contrast, Biden’s 2022 budget last spring proposed a 16% increase for domestic programs and less than 2% more for defense — numbers that were doomed from the start thanks to Democrats’ slender congressional majorities.

The bill was also fueled by large numbers of hometown projects for both parties’ lawmakers, which Congress had banned since 2011 but were revived this year. The spending — once called earmarks, now dubbed community projects — includes money for courthouses in Connecticut and Tennessee and repairs to a post office in West Virginia. And it names a federal building in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after Sen. Richard Shelby, the state’s senior GOP senator, a chief author of the bill who’s retiring after six terms.

Democrats won $15.6 billion for a fresh round of spending for vaccines, testing and treatments for COVID-19, including $5 billion for fighting the pandemic around the world. That was below Biden’s $22.5 billion request.

Republicans said they’d forced Democrats to pay for the entire amount by pulling back money from COVID-19 relief bills enacted previously. Much of the money was to go to help states and businesses cope with the toll of the pandemic.

There’s added money for child care, job training, economic development in poorer communities and more generous Pell grants for low-income undergraduates. Public health and biomedical research would get increases, including $194 million for Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” effort to cure the disease.

Citizenship and Immigration Services would get funds to reduce huge backlogs of people trying to enter the U.S. There would be fresh efforts to bolster renewable energy and curb pollution, with some of that aimed specifically at communities of color.

There is added funding to build affordable housing. And the measure distributes billions of dollars initially provided by the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted last year for road, rail and airport projects.

The bill “delivers transformative federal investments to help lower the cost of living for working families, create American jobs, and provide a lifeline for the vulnerable,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

The bill renews programs protecting women against domestic violence and requires many infrastructure operators to report significant cyber attacks and ransomware demands to federal authorities. The Defense Department would have to report on extremist ideologies within the ranks.

The measure retains strict decades-old curbs against using federal money for nearly all abortions. It has $300 million in military assistance for Ukraine and $300 million to help nearby countries like the Baltic nations and Poland. Service members would get 2.7% pay raises, and Navy shipbuilding would get a boost in a counter to China.

It “rejects liberal policies and effectively addresses Republican priorities,” said Shelby, top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Since the government’s fiscal year began last Oct. 1, agencies have been running on spending levels approved during Donald Trump’s final weeks in the White House. Congress has approved three short-term bills since then keeping agency doors open.

___

Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Law enforcement officers aim their weapons at a home during a standoff in Grants Pass, Ore., on Tue...
Associated Press

Oregon kidnapping suspect dies of self-inflicted gunshot

The suspect in a violent kidnapping in Oregon has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
1 day ago
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference after a Federal Open M...
Christopher Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

Fed lifts rate by quarter-point and signals more hikes ahead

The Federal Reserve extended its fight against high inflation Wednesday by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, its eighth hike since March.
1 day ago
Six-year-old Mason Stonehouse was playing on his dad’s phone before bedtime and spent about $1,00...
CNN

Michigan six-year-old orders $1,000 worth of food on Grubhub

A six-year-old as playing on his dad's phone before bedtime and spent about $1,000 on Grubhub orders.
1 day ago
FILE - U.S. Secret Service agents are seen in front of Joe Biden's Rehoboth Beach, Del., home on Ja...
Eric Tucker, Colleen Long and Zeke Miller, Associated Press

Biden lawyer: FBI finds no classified docs at beach house

The Federal Bureau of Investigation searched President Joe Biden's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Wednesday without finding any classified documents, the president's personal attorney said.
1 day ago
Soundgarden performs on stage for Guitar Hero game...
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press

Missy, Willie and George Michael among Rock Hall nominees

Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Kate Bush, Iron Maiden, Cyndi Lauper, Soundgarden, Sheryl Crow and the late George Michael are nominees for 2023 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a list that includes a mix of country, soul, hip-hop, metal, pop, rap-rock and grunge.
1 day ago
Mourners sit next to a candle display during a vigil for Tyre Nichols at Regency Community Skatepar...
Aaron Morrison and Travis Loller, Associated Press

‘We’re all Tyre’: Family prepares to lay Nichols to rest

The family of Tyre Nichols plans to lay him to rest Wednesday, three weeks after he died following a brutal beating by Memphis police that was captured on disturbing video that prompted nationwide protests and renewed calls for police reform.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Top lawmakers reach deal on Ukraine aid, $1.5T spending