AP

Ukraine aid, huge budget bill near final OK in Senate

Mar 10, 2022, 8:42 PM

From left, European Union Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Jeanne Sha...

From left, European Union Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., German Ambassador Emily Haber, and Lithuanian Ambassador Audra Plepyte join other diplomats to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A $13.6 billion emergency package of military and humanitarian aid for besieged Ukraine and its European allies easily won final congressional approval Thursday, hitching a ride on a government-wide spending bill that’s five months late but loaded with political prizes for both parties.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion killing thousands and forcing over 2 million others to flee, the Senate approved the overall $1.5 trillion overall legislation by a 68-31 bipartisan margin. Democrats and Republicans have battled this election year over rising inflation, energy policy and lingering pandemic restrictions, but they’ve rallied behind sending aid to Ukraine, whose stubborn resilience against brutal force has been inspirational for many voters.

“We promised the Ukrainian people they would not go at it alone in their fight against Putin,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said just before the vote. “And once we pass this funding in a short while, we will keep that promise.”

The House passed the compromise bill easily Wednesday. President Joe Biden’s signature was certain.

Around half the $13.6 billion measure was for arming and equipping Ukraine and the Pentagon’s costs for sending U.S. troops to other Eastern European nations skittish about the warfare next door. Much of the rest included humanitarian and economic assistance, strengthening regional allies’ defenses and protecting their energy supplies and cybersecurity needs.

Republicans strongly backed that spending. But they criticized Biden for moving too timidly, such as in the unresolved dispute with Poland over how that nation could give MiG fighter jets to Ukraine that its pilots know how to fly.

“This administration’s first instinct is to flinch, wait for international and public pressure to overwhelm them, and then take action only after the most opportune moment has passed us by,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

White House aides told Congress last month that Biden wanted $6.4 billion to counter Russia’s invasion. He ended up formally requesting $10 billion, an amount that it took an eager Congress just a few days to boost to its final figure of $13.6 billion.

The $1.5 trillion bill carrying that aid gave Democrats a near 7% increase for domestic initiatives, which constituted a bit less than half the package. That translated to beefed-up spending for schools, housing, child care, renewable energy, biomedical research, law enforcement grants to communities and feeding programs.

The measure also specifically directs money to minority communities and historically black colleges, renews efforts aimed at preventing domestic violence against women and requires infrastructure operators to report serious hacking incidents to federal authorities.

Republicans lay claim to an almost 6% boost for defense, including money for 85 advanced F-35 fighter planes, 13 new Navy ships, upgrades for 90 Abrams tanks, a pay raise for troops and improvements for schools on military bases. There would be another $300 million for Ukraine and $300 million for other Eastern European allies on top of the measure’s emergency funding.

The GOP also prevailed in retaining decades-old restrictions against using federal money to pay for nearly all abortions. And they forced Biden to abandon goals for his 2022 budget — politically implausible from the start — that envisioned 16% domestic program increases and defense growth of less than 2%.

Besides those policy victories, many lawmakers of both parties had one incentive to back the spending package that they have not enjoyed since 2010. Democratic leaders restored the old practice of earmarks, hometown projects for lawmakers that Congress dropped in 2011 because voters viewed it as a sleazy misspending of taxpayers’ money.

The practice restored, the expansive spending bill was laced with thousands of the projects at a price tag of several billion dollars. A decade or two ago, the numbers were often higher than that.

Affirming the practice’s popularity, the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., to strip the earmarks from the package. Braun said the earmarks encompassed 367 pages that weighed five pounds and showed “the swamp is rising again.” The amendment’s defeat by a bipartisan 64-35 margin spoke for itself.

Government agencies have operated under last year’s lower spending levels since the new fiscal year began Oct. 1 because, as usual, Congress hadn’t approved any bills by then updating those amounts.

Months of talks finally produced the compromise spending pact this week. With the latest temporary spending measure expiring Friday night, Biden’s signature of the $1.5 trillion bill would avert a weekend federal shutdown — which was never going to happen because neither party had any reason to spark such a battle.

A lot has happened since Oct. 1, much of it challenging for Democrats. Biden’s polling numbers have sunk, high inflation has persisted and gasoline prices have jumped. Omicron’s fade has left voters impatient to end pandemic restrictions, Biden’s marquee social and environment bill has crashed and Russia has invaded Ukraine.

With that as the election-year backdrop, Democrats saw the $1.5 trillion package as their chance to claim wins.

Currently controlling both the White House and Congress, Democrats could lose their narrow House and Senate majorities in November’s midterm elections, meaning this could be the peak of their ability to win policy priorities for years. Before last year, the last time they controlled both branches was in 2010.

The largesse has been enabled, in part, by both parties’ relaxed attitudes toward gargantuan federal deficits.

Last year’s pandemic-fueled shortfall of $2.8 trillion was the second worst ever. It was so high that Biden has suggested that this year’s projected $1.8 trillion gap would be an accomplishment because it would be $1 trillion smaller, the biggest reduction ever.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

MEG KINNARD and WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

2 days ago

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, sits with her attorney Jason Bowles, left, during the first day of t...

MORGAN LEE Associate Press

Negligence or scapegoating? Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer begins in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors sought to pin blame on a movie weapons supervisor for bringing live ammunition on set that contributed to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during production of the film "Rust."

4 days ago

A pail rests next to caution tape on a beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2...

Associated Press

Young girl killed when a hole she dug in the sand collapsed on a Florida beach, authorities said

A young girl died Tuesday when a deep hole she was digging collapsed on her at a south Florida beach, authorities said.

6 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018....

MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

A Colorado man is dead after a pet Gila monster bite

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death if the creature's venom was the cause.

6 days ago

Visitors stand at the closed gates leading to the Eiffel Tower, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 in Paris....

OLEG CETINIC Associated Press

Eiffel Tower operator warns the landmark is closed as strike turns visitors away for a second day

A strike at the Eiffel Tower over poor financial management turned away visitors on Tuesday for the second consecutive day.

6 days ago

capitol one building...

KEN SWEET AP Business Writer

Capital One to buy Discover for $35 billion in deal that combines major US credit card companies

Capital One Financial is buying Discover Financial Services for $35 billion, in a deal that would bring together two of the nation's biggest lenders and credit card issuers.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Ukraine aid, huge budget bill near final OK in Senate