California Observer

US Senate passes bill to prevent shutdown

Image Source: Bloomberg

On Thursday, the US Senate voted to pass a stopgap bill to keep the government from shutting down at the end of this week. Currently, funding is set to run out at midnight on Friday.

There were 71 yes votes and 19 no votes.

Now that it has passed the US Senate, it can be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. On Wednesday, the measure was passed by the House.

The stopgap measure will keep the government running for another week, until Friday, December 23. This will give congressional negotiators time to reach a deal on a larger, full-year funding plan for the government, with new spending levels for the top line.

Top negotiators said Tuesday night that they had reached a deal on a framework that puts lawmakers on track to finish a big package to pay the government for the whole year.

Chairman of the US Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy said in a statement that he, ranking Republican member Richard Shelby, and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro had “reached a bipartisan, bicameral framework that should allow us to finish an appropriations bill that can pass the congress and be signed into law by the President.”

But so far, negotiators have not heard much about what the agreement will look like.

Shelby said on Wednesday that the top line is about $1.7 trillion, but he didn’t say more. Shelby said that the amounts given to each government agency are still being discussed.

The news that a framework agreement had been reached for an enormous spending bill was a big step forward in the negotiations. But there is still more work as lawmakers finalize the small details and specifics of what the vast bill will include.

On Capitol Hill, people think Congress can keep the government from shutting down. Still, congressional leaders need more room for error because they have such a short time. This puts pressure on lawmakers.

It has been hard to get both parties to agree on a full-year funding deal for the government because they have differing views about how much money should be spent on non-defense domestic priorities.

Republicans say that recent domestic spending by Democrats is wasteful and will worsen inflation. They also say that measures Democrats passed when they controlled both houses of Congress, like a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill and a broad health care and climate bill, are also wasteful and will make inflation worse.

Democrats say that these steps were needed to help the country get back on its feet after the pandemic’s devastating effects and deal with other important issues. Democrats say spending money on Covid, health care, and the environment shouldn’t mean less money for government operations and domestic spending that isn’t for defense next year.

US Senate sends $858 billion defense bill to Biden’s desk

The US Senate passed the annual defense authorization bill on Thursday. The $858 billion bill is now on the desk of President Biden for his signature before the end of the year.

The bill, officially called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was passed with 83 votes in favor and only 11 against.

It gives the Department of Defense $817 billion and the Department of Energy $30 billion, which is $45 billion more than what Biden’s budget asked for.

The vote on Thursday ends weeks of fighting over the floor schedule and controversial policy changes, like the language conservative Republicans, wanted to end the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the military, which has been in place since August of 2021.

It’s the 61st year in a row that Congress has passed the defense bill on time. This is a big deal, given that Congress has been stuck in a stalemate for the past few years.

The US Senate passed the bill precisely one week after the House did. It tells the Department of Defense how to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons programs and gives service members a raise of 4.6%.

It gives $163 billion for buying things, which is more than Biden’s request of $144 billion. It also gives $139 billion for research and development, more than Biden’s request of $130 billion, and $279 billion for operation and maintenance, more than Biden’s request of $271 billion.

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Also, it gives $211 for personnel and health, which is about the same as what Biden asked for. It provides $19 billion for military construction and $30 billion for nuclear programs related to defense.

The bill includes money for military aid to other countries, like $10 billion to Taiwan until 2027 and another $800 million for Ukraine’s security.

It gives $6 billion to the European Deterrence Initiative. This program started in 2014, after Russia took over Crimea, to make U.S. forces in Europe better prepared to stop future aggression.

The bill also changes the Uniform Code of Military Justice to give the special trial counsel authority over sexual harassment crimes and to require that harassment complaints be looked into by investigators who are not in the immediate chain of command.

Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.

Opinions expressed by California Observer contributors are their own.