Last Thursday night, the Senate passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus funding bill in a 68-31 vote, including a $13.6 billion emergency package for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The bill’s passage fell on the same day the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new consumer price index data that showed prices continuing their worrying upward trajectory. Most Republicans called the move a mistake amidst rising inflation. However, Democrats saw the emergency spending as necessary to support Ukraine and prevent a government shutdown.
President Biden signed a smaller appropriations bill to fund the government through March 15, allowing extra time for the larger omnibus package to gain Congress’ approval. He is likely to sign the broader legislation next week. This resolution includes funding increases for almost every federal agency, including the Internal Revenue Service, which will receive its largest increase in over twenty years. After White House officials initially requested $30 billion to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, they lowered their ask to $22.5 billion. Top Democrats further agreed to drop that figure down to $15.6 billion in their negotiations with Republicans. However, after several Democratic House members signaled they would not support these cuts, Speaker Pelosi removed all pandemic funds to allow the bill to pass unhindered.
In this omnibus spending bill, Democrats have restarted the practice of earmarking, where lawmakers include funding for special projects in their districts. Republicans ended the practice in 2011 after a growing number of their members criticized earmarking as wasteful and unnecessary spending. This year, congressional Democrats brought it back, rebranding it as funding for community projects, and insisting the process has stricter limitations than before. According to House figures, the spending bill includes earmarks for 2,021 projects for House Democrats, totaling $2.5 billion, and 706 for their Republican colleagues, totaling $1.7 billion.
Last week, Congress passed the bipartisan funding package, providing much-needed resources and ensuring we avoid a shutdown. While Republicans claim outrage over earmarking, the practice ensures lawmakers get critical investments into their districts, and many conservative members of Congress used the process on this very bill. This legislation provides assistance to Ukraine, funds to combat gun violence, grants for low-income students, and more. Once again, this administration and Democratic-led Congress are delivering for the American people.
Democrats have once again tied necessary spending with trillions of needless dollars. Bundling humanitarian aid to Ukraine forced some Republicans to vote in favor of driving inflation. This extensive spending will hurt Americans by further devaluing the dollar, making it harder to buy gas, food, and goods. In addition, Democrats have brought back the corrupt practice of earmarking, allowing politicians to sneak government money for personal projects in their district.