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