Mar 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Congress reaches deal on Ukraine aid, $1.5 trillion spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Congressional leaders said they reached a bipartisan deal early Wednesday to provide $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and $15.6 billion for COVID-19 relief, as part of a $1.5 trillion measure to fund the government.

Why it matters: The size of the Ukraine package — more than double the original request from the White House — reflects a sense of urgency among members of both parties after President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with senators over Zoom to provide more humanitarian, military and economic assistance.

  • And the release of the spending bill means the Biden administration will no longer have to operate under a number of temporary spending measures that capped federal agencies at older funding levels.

What we're watching: Party leaders hoped to whip the 2,741-page measure through the House today and the Senate (perhaps) by week's end.

  • The spending bill would fund the U.S. government through Sept. 30.
  • Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to pass funding legislation.
  • As a backstop against a short shutdown, the House plans to pass a short-term bill Wednesday to continue government funding at current levels through March 15.

The details: The bill provides $730 billion for federal domestic spending for the rest of the fiscal year — the largest increase in non-defense spending in four years — and $782 billion in defense spending, according to a summary of the bill.

  • Separately, roughly half of the $13.6 billion Ukraine package goes to humanitarian and economic aid, and the other half goes to defense in Ukraine and U.S. allies and partners like Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia.
  • The bill will also reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 2019, after senators came to a bipartisan agreement last month.

Between the lines: President Biden originally asked Congress for $6.4 billion for Ukraine but upped that request to $10 billion as Russia continued to bomb Ukrainian cities.

  • The $15.6 billion package for COVID-19 relief both in the U.S. and globally is also smaller than the $22.5 billion sought by the Biden administration after Republicans opposed the idea of spending more on pandemic response.
  • The current bill returns $15.7 billion that was appropriated in previous pandemic relief bills to the Treasury Department.

What they're saying: "This bipartisan agreement will help us address many of the major challenges we face at home and abroad: from COVID-19, to the vicious and immoral attack on Ukraine, to the need to lower costs for hardworking American families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

  • "We hope to pass this critical bipartisan legislation in both Chambers before the Continuing Resolution expires this Friday," they added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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