Senate Passes Monster Spending Package With Backing From 18 Republicans
Schumer McConnell
Schumer: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images McConnell: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Senate passed a $1.7 trillion spending package Thursday on a 68-29 vote, with 18 Republicans joining Democrats to push the massive omnibus over the line.

Congressional leaders are rushing to get the bill through Congress and to President Joe Biden’s desk before the federal government hits its Friday deadline and runs out of funding. Congress passed a stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution, last week to fund the government up until the day before Christmas Eve.

The Republican senators who voted to pass the bill include Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Boozman of Arkansas, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Thune of South Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Todd Young of Indiana.

Senior lawmakers unveiled the text of the 4,155-page omnibus bill in the early morning hours on Tuesday. The Senate voted 70-25 on Tuesday to move the bill through a procedural vote to begin debate, easily clearing the 60-vote threshold. Only 51 votes were required to pass the bill.

The spending package has faced outspoken opposition from a group of conservatives in the Senate, as well as public criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a leading contender to be the next House speaker.

The omnibus’ Republican critics have said that Congress should continue to pass stopgap spending measures until the Republican majority is seated in the House next year, giving the GOP a stronger position from which to barter with the administration and Democrats over spending priorities.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been one of the loudest critics of the omnibus in the upper chamber. On Tuesday, he gave a Senate floor speech blasting the spending package and Congressional leaders who were pushing it through, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“This bill before us is legislative barbarism. This is an act of extortion being leveraged on the United States Senate right before Christmas,” Lee said. “This bill, in all 4,155 pages of its glory – or infamy – was negotiated in secret by four or five members of Congress.”

“They wrote it utterly in secret with the design of making an artificial emergency, threatening a shutdown right before Christmas,” he continued.

McConnell worked alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push the bill through the Senate. McConnell claimed the omnibus was a necessary investment in the U.S. military. “The bipartisan government funding bill before this body is imperfect but strong. It will make huge new investments in our Armed Forces while cutting non-defense, non-veterans baseline spending in real dollars,” he said in a Wednesday statement.

The bill allocates $858 billion to military spending, $45 billion more than Biden requested. It has another $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The $1.7 trillion bill is loaded with earmarks, carveouts, and favors for numerous lawmakers. The bill also contains provisions such as $410 million in funding for border security for the countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman. That provision was pointed out by Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) as an example of questionable spending.

The bill also contains $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers,” $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island “to indoctrinate teachers with ‘antiracism virtual labs,’” and $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum, according to The Heritage Foundation.

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