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$1.7 trillion, 4,155-page Omnibus Bill passes Senate with help from 18 Republicans

The $1.7 trillion omnibus bill passed the Senate Thursday afternoon by 68 votes to 29. Eighteen Republicans voted for the 4,155-page bill just released days ago.

The House will potentially vote on the bill on Thursday and it will be signed into law ahead of a Friday night deadline before the government shutdown. Senators were rushing to vote on the bill before terrible weather hit Washington, DC that would have prevented them from going home.

“From start to finish — top to bottom — this omnibus is bold, generous, far-reaching, and ambitious,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters. “That’s not all we would have liked, of course. When you’re dealing bipartisan and bicameral, you have to sit down and do it, and that means each side has to concede some things.

$1.7 trillion, 4,155-page bill includes $45 billion in aid for Ukraine, on top of $66 billion in taxpayer money lawmakers have already approved for Ukraine .

Like a blank check and without any accounting for funds spent, American taxpayers have given more aid to Ukraine in 2022 than Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt combined in 2020. Within months of the start of the Ukrainian war, the amount of US aid to Ukraine also passed three of the largest recipients of US military aid in history.

Some Republicans have tried to stop the massive spending bill. Negotiations get sticky Wednesday after Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Title 42 amendment threw a wrench in the Senate trial. As a result, many critics of the deal hoped that Congress would be forced to pass a short-term (CR) spending resolution to keep government open, pending continued deadlock among Democrats over Lee’s amendment.

But Schumer Resolved the issue with a procedural tactic to circumvent Lee’s amendment. Schumer worked with Senators Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) Thursday morning drafting a side-by-side amendment to provide political cover for ten Senators to ignore Lee’s Title 42 Amendment.

Senators who supported the alternative political coverage amendment to Lee’s amendment are noteworthy. They include some Senators who are up for re-election in 2024, such as Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tester and Sinema.

Schumer told reporters ahead of the vote that the tactic would allow the Senate to pass the spending bill, allowing senators to go home before Christmas, a self-imposed deadline by Schumer’s negotiating colleague, Senator McConnell McConnell (R- KY), which has publicly supported the massive bill.

“Providing assistance to the Ukrainians to defeat the Russians is the number one priority for the United States right now according to most Republicans. That’s kind of how we see the challenges facing the country right now,” McConnell said on Tuesday.

The bill will go to the House for approval. Hopefully, President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law in the next few days.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Chirping @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of slave morality.