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Congress passes a major spending deal to keep the government funded

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pictured on Wednesday at the Capitol, says the Senate is moving forward with a vote on the $1.7 trillion spending package.
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pictured on Wednesday at the Capitol, says the Senate is moving forward with a vote on the $1.7 trillion spending package.

Updated December 23, 2022 at 6:22 PM ET

Congress passed a nearly $1.7 trillion government funding bill Friday, sending the package to President Joe Biden.

The House voted 225-201 on the bill Friday afternoon racing to avert a prior deadline of midnight tonight to keep the government funded.

Nine House Republicans broke ranks to help Democrats pass the federal spending bill to avoid a government shutdown: Liz Cheney of Wyoming; Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state; Chris Jacobs and John Katko of New York; Fred Upton of Michigan; and Steve Womack of Arkansas.

The president said in a statement Friday that he will sign the bill into law the moment it hits his desk.

"This bill is further proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together to deliver for the American people, and I'm looking forward to continued bipartisan progress in the year ahead," Biden said.

Congress also approved a stopgap measure to fund the government through December 30th, which the president signed Friday, in case the massive spending bill does not make it to his desk by the midnight deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday that the omnibus bill is one of the most significant appropriations packages to pass Congress in a long time.

On Thursday, the Senate passed the measure by a bipartisan vote of 68-29.

"The range of people it helps is large indeed," Schumer said.

"After a lot of hard work and compromise, the Senate is funding the government with an aggressive investment in American families, workers, and national defense."

In a speech on the House floor on Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi noted that it would likely be her last time addressing the chamber as speaker.

She thanked her fellow lawmakers for working together to avoid a government shutdown and passing legislation that meets the needs of the American people.

The bill funds the military and government agencies through Sept. 30, 2023. It includes pay raises for service members and government workers, nearly $40 billion in emergency aid to areas struck by public disasters, and over $44 billion in aid for Ukraine.

The bill also makes changes to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, aimed at making it more difficult to block the certification of a presidential election. The reforms include clarifying that the vice president has a purely ceremonial role as Congress certifies presidential elections.

The package also adds policy provisions to expand federal protections for pregnant workers.

Schumer had asked senators to vote on amendments expeditiously, as the chamber raced to pass the bill ahead of the original deadline of Friday night at midnight.

Lawmakers also had a personal impetus to keep things speedy: heading home for the holidays without getting derailed by the approaching winter storm.

Ahead of the Senate vote, senators applauded outgoing Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who helped negotiate the massive spending bill.

Journey to passage

Lawmakers worked late into the night on Wednesday to advance the funding bill after attending an address to a joint meeting of Congress by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The chamber hit a snag in negotiations centered on Title 42, a pandemic-era border restriction policy that enabled the Department of Homeland Security to expel migrants crossing the border without the possibility of claiming asylum.

The policy was set to expire, but the Supreme Court issued a temporary order to keep the restrictions in place.

Republicans wanted to vote on an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, which would have blocked the Biden administration from rescinding Title 42.

Senate Democrats were concerned some centrist members might support Lee's amendment, and if it were to pass the Senate, it would essentially render the omnibus bill dead on arrival once it reached the House, where progressive Democrats support ending Title 42.

On Thursday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who recently announced she is switching from Democrat to independent, offered a similar amendment aimed at increasing border funding and extending the Title 42 policy.

The political reality of having two related amendments lowered the likelihood that Lee's amendment would pass and in turn cause the omnibus to sink in the House. Both amendments ultimately failed.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.