Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
December 20, 2022

Congress is set to vote on a 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion government funding bill this week after the Omnibus funding package, made up of the 12 annual appropriations bills, which will fund the government and its various agencies through the remainder of fiscal 2023 was released early this morning.  Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) released the bill that includes $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, including $118.7 billion – a 22 percent increase – for VA medical care, and $858 billion in defense funding.  The bill also includes $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies and $40.6 billion to assist communities across the country recovering from drought, hurricanes, flooding, wildfire, natural disasters and other matters.  However, many priorities were notably left out of the package including a bipartisan push to tuck the popular cannabis banking bill known as the SAFE Banking Act into it, sentencing reform, the Afghan Adjustment Act, which would have saved tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees from the risk of deportation, two major antitrust bills aimed at Big Tech, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would have given more bathroom breaks and other job protections to pregnant workers, and a ban on Huawei from the U.S. banking system.

The legislative text, explanatory statement, and a summary for each of the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations bills is available HERE.

As to the path forward, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on the bill at 2:30 P.M. today.  On the Senate floor this morning, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) urged fellow Republicans to vote for the Omnibus, praising its defense spending plus-up and warning that failure would “give our armed forces confusion and uncertainty.  However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California), trying to shore up conservative backing for his struggling speaker bid, threw his support behind the 13 House Republicans who said in a letter that they would tank any policy priorities going forward of Republican senators who vote for the omnibus.  GOP senators have largely ignored calls for a delay and pressed ahead for a deal.  Some have indicated they believed they were doing Mr. McCarthy a favor by passing a long-term deal now and keeping it off his plate as he tries to wrangle his caucus next year.  However, he has rejected those comments and stressed he would be able to reach a deal.  The Omnibus can pass with a simple majority in the House, needing just Democratic votes.  Passage in the evenly divided Senate will require at least 10 Republican votes if all Democrats support it, due to the 60-vote filibuster threshold.

The house is expected to be in session tomorrow with first votes of the week postponed until 6:30 P.M. and will stay in session until the Omnibus is completed.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.