Biden signs $1.5 trillion government funding bill with Ukraine aid
President Biden has signed into law a sweeping $1.5 trillion bill that funds the government through September and provides billions in assistance for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
Biden signed the legislation during a ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House on Tuesday afternoon that was attended by administration officials and Democratic lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.), and Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).
In prepared remarks, Biden highlighted the Ukraine assistance as well as other domestic programs funded by the massive legislation and said the bill demonstrated that Republicans and Democrats can work together.
“Today we are again showing the American people that as a country we can come together,” he said. “That our democracy can deliver, can deliver and outperform autocracies.”
After months of negotiations, the final text of the funding bill was introduced just last week and moved quickly through the House and Senate, where it passed with bipartisan support.
The legislation stretches more than 2,700 pages and funds the government through the current fiscal year. It also includes $13.6 billion in humanitarian and security assistance to address Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Biden said the Ukraine assistance would help the country defend against a broad Russian attack and address humanitarian needs as millions of Ukrainians flee their homes.
“With this new security funding and the drawdown authorities in this bill, we’re moving urgently to further augment the support to the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country,” he said, adding that he would have more to say about the assistance on Wednesday.
Biden also highlighted funding for law enforcement programs, opioid response and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that were included in the bill.
“It sends a clear message to the American people that we are investing in safety, health and the future of Americans,” the president said.
Biden’s signing of the legislation averts a government shutdown and guarantees that lawmakers will not need to worry about passing another government funding bill until much later this year.
However, the bill does not include billions in COVID-19 funding that the White House had asked Congress for to support the federal government’s response to the pandemic.
The House stripped the funding out of the bill due to a disagreement involving both parties about offsetting the funding. Senate Republicans insisted the funds be offset with cuts, but a group of House Democrats objected to an agreement that would have rescinded some state aid provided in an earlier relief bill to cover some of the new funding.
The decision to strip the funding has angered the White House, though Biden did not dwell on it during his remarks Tuesday afternoon at the bill signing.
While commending Congress for coming to an agreement to pass the long-term funding bill, the White House warned that the pandemic response will suffer if lawmakers do not approve more funding for government pandemic programs.
Earlier Tuesday, Biden administration officials warned that without new funding, the allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments to states will be reduced by 30 percent beginning next week, and the treatment supply could be completely exhausted by May.
Officials also said the government would not have enough money to purchase additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to cover all Americans if a fourth dose is needed, and that testing capacity will suffer without additional funding from Congress.
There isn’t a clear path to more COVID-19 funding getting approved, however, given the partisan disagreement and Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress.
The omnibus funding bill passed the Senate in a 68-31 vote last week a day after it passed the House 361-69. Biden still had to sign a continuing resolution ahead of a Friday night deadline to avert a shutdown to give a few days for the massive bill to make its way from Capitol Hill to the White House.
— Updated at 3:03 p.m.