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Congressional Leaders Agree to Massive $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill That 'Responds to Russia's Unprovoked War'

  Congress reportedly will include billions of dollars for Ukraine in a massive spending package set for approval this week. The overall $1....

 Congress reportedly will include billions of dollars for Ukraine in a massive spending package set for approval this week.

The overall $1.5 trillion package to fund the federal government for the balance of the federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30 includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine, which is slightly less than the $15.6 billion set aside for the Biden administration’s COVID-19 priorities, according to Reuters.

“We can’t stay away from the TV and watching what is happening in Ukraine … and this bill responds to Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression [and] vicious invasion of Ukraine,” Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said in a statement.

The bill also responds to the demands of lawmakers for the return of earmarks – projects inserted into the spending bill to benefit specific lawmakers.

In the House alone, there are more than $4.2 billion in local projects, according to Roll Call. Democrats are grabbing about 60 percent of the money for about 75 percent of the projects.

The spending bill chock full of pet projects will move through Congress at a time America’s debt already tops $30 trillion, according to the U.S. Debt Clock.

The bill increases defense-related spending by $42 billion, or 5.6 percent over last year. Non-defense spending goes up $46 billion, or 6.7 percent.

The 2,741-page package includes a $2.25 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, the agency that includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose director is Dr. Anthiny Fauci.

Republicans were able to ensure the legislation includes the Hyde amendment, which largely prohibits federal funding for abortions, Roll Call reported.

The aid package for Ukraine includes $3 billion in weapons and $3 billion for U.S. forces in the region. More than $4 billion in humanitarian assistance and nearly $1.8 billion in economic aid would go to Ukraine and nearby nations impacted by the war.

The COVID-19 funding comes on top of more than $6 trillion allocated to fight COVID-19 since March 2020, according to CNN.

Roll Call reported that as of Tuesday, it appeared that two-thirds of the coronavirus aid would go to the Department of Health and Human Services and the balance to the U.S. Agency for International Development to be spent overseas. 

Despite all the things in the bill, some efforts failed, including a plan to funnel federal aid to bars and restaurants impacted by the pandemic.

“We are beyond disappointed that this massive government funding proposal ignores the needs of 177,300 neighborhood restaurants and bars impacted by the pandemic,” Erika Polmar, executive director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said in a statement.

The federal government runs out of authorization to spend money on Tuesday. The House and Senate are prepared to pass resolutions that extend that if the appropriations package fails to clear both chambers of Congress by then.

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