Senate passes $1.7 trillion spending bill with help from Republicans


The Senate approved a $1.7 trillion spending bill on Thursday with the help of more than a dozen Republican lawmakers after a tussle over immigration policy nearly derailed the legislation.

In a vote of 68 to 29, the Senate passed a bill providing $858 billion for defense, $787 billion for non-defense domestic programs and nearly $45 billion for the military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The more than 4,000-page bill funds the government for the remainder of the fiscal year and includes more than 7,200 appropriations totaling more than $15 billion.

Passing the Senate sends the bill to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to hold a vote as early as Thursday night to allow lawmakers to leave for the Christmas recess.

“The bill is so important to get done because it will be good for families, for veterans, for our national security, even for the health of our democratic institutions,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. DN.Y.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., pushed through a $1.7 trillion spending bill Thursday, just a day before the partial government shutdown.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Although only a majority vote was needed, a handful of Republicans voted with every Senate Democrat to pass the bill. Republican support was slightly lower than the 21 GOP votes the measure garnered earlier this week to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.

While the two parties negotiated the bill in the Senate, the spending bill drew significant opposition from Republicans.

Several Senate Republicans even mounted last-minute pressure to block the measure before the final vote. Arguing that a GOP-controlled House could demand bigger concessions from Biden in January, Republicans have sought to modify the bill in a way that Democrats say would make it impossible to pass the House.

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“Senate Republicans should instead support a short-term spending bill, allowing the new Congress — along with the new Republican House — to begin the spending process again in January,” said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Late Wednesday, the bill was nearly derailed by a Republican push to add immigration language. In exchange for agreeing to speed up the voting process, Lee wanted a vote to keep in place a Trump-era immigration policy that has blocked millions of immigrants from entering the United States. This so-called Title 42 policy, which was invoked at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, allows immigration to be restricted for public health reasons.

The spending bill is now heading to the House of Representatives, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to hold a vote before lawmakers leave for the Christmas recess.

The spending bill is now heading to the House of Representatives, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to hold a vote before lawmakers leave for the Christmas recess.
(AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

Senators Lee and GOP hoped that a simple majority vote on the amendment keeping Title 42 in place would win the support of enough Red Democrats to pass.

Lee’s request froze the Senate for several hours, and Lee accused Democrats of ducking the question because the measure could easily pass. Although popular with some moderate Democrats, the Title 42 policy is widely opposed by progressives in the House and likely would have defeated the bill.

On Thursday morning, Schumer agreed to give Lee his vote, but also organized a vote on an amendment by Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema that would have kept Title 42 in place and increased funding for the app and the immigration processing.

The Senate rejected Sinema’s amendment, which needed 60 votes to pass. But Sinema’s language allowed moderate Democrats facing tough re-election challenges in 2024, like Sinema and Montana Sen. Jon Tester, to vote to keep Title 42 while opposing Lee’s amendment. which also failed due to lack of Democratic support.

Senators Lee and GOP hoped that a simple majority vote on an amendment keeping Title 42 in place would win the support of enough red state Democrats to pass.

Senators Lee and GOP hoped that a simple majority vote on an amendment keeping Title 42 in place would win the support of enough red state Democrats to pass.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“This was a workaround designed by Schumer to protect the budget without putting vulnerable senators on a limb,” said a Democratic Senate aide. “Everyone won except Mike Lee.”

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The Senate also brushed aside an argument by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that the giant spending bill ignores Senate rules aimed at ensuring new spending is paid for with spending cuts. But when forced by Paul to deal with the issue, the Senate voted 65 to 31 in favor of waiving Senate budget rules.


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