(FiveNation.com)- On Thursday, the Senate passed a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill that would help the government avoid a shutdown.
The bill now heads to the House, where it must pass before being sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. If that doesn’t happen by Friday evening, it’s possible that a partial government shutdown will occur.
The final Senate vote was 68-29.
The bill contains $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs and another $858 billion in funding for defense. Those are increases of 5% and 8%, respectively.
Also included in the bill is $44.9 billion in economic, humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine. This includes money that will replenish the stockpile of weapons that the United States has already sent to Ukraine, as well as additional funds for its NATO allies.
There is funding that will help local communities across the country to help them recover from natural disasters, such as major storms and wildfires.
An overhaul of the 1887 federal Electoral Count Act is also included in the package. That bill is what former President Donald Trump tried to use so they could overturn the presidential election results in 2020.
The new version of the bill clarifies what role the vice president has in certifying the electoral votes by individual states. It states that his role is just ceremonial in nature, and that the position doesn’t have any power to reject the election results that were certified by the states.
In 2020, Trump had pressured his vice president Mike Pence to not certify the election results so that he could win instead of Democrat Joe Biden. He and his allies claimed that in his role as president of the Senate, Pence had the power to do this.
Many Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of this funding package. That included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who urged members of the GOP to back the package, labeling it as “imperfect but strong.”
During a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, McConnell said:
“If Senate Republicans controlled this chamber, we would have handled the appropriations process differently from top to bottom. But, given the reality of where we stand today, senators have two options this week: We will either give our armed forces the resources and certainty that they need, or we will deny it to them.”
Assuming the House passes the bill this week, it will ensure that the funding levels for government agencies are set while the Democrats are still in charge of both chambers of Congress plus the White House.
If they aren’t able to pass it by Friday’s deadline, it would face new challenges in the new year, when the GOP will have control of the House — and would likely pose more objections to what’s included in the bill.
Getting this bill passed and signed would also be a major legislative victory for Biden to close out 2022.