Congress unveils $2.3 trillion government spending and virus relief package

Congress unveils $2.3 trillion government spending and virus relief package

15:40 - Congress unveiled a $2.3 trillion spending package it is expected to approve in a matter of hours that provides relief to a coronavirus-battered economy while funding the government through the end of the fiscal year

The package includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill based on a 2019 deal, and included $740.5 billion in defense spending and $664.5 billion in domestic spending.

It also includes a $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill.

“As I prepare to depart the House after 32 years of service, I could not be more pleased that we are concluding this Congress with a bipartisan agreement to provide the certainty of full-year funding for all of government and urgently-needed coronavirus relief to save lives and livelihoods,” said outgoing House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the first woman to chair the committee.

The spending bill weighed Democratic priorities approved in the House and GOP priorities only released by the Senate last month amid infighting. The final text was made public for the first time on Monday, giving little time for Congress, advocacy groups, or constituents to see the final text before the expected vote alongside the COVID-19 relief bill. Problems with uploading and printing the 5,593-page bill delayed its release further.

The combined $2.3 trillion package is among the largest ever passed in Congress, coming in just ahead of March’s $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

The overall cost of the bill, which also included several sections authorizing new programs, could ultimately be higher.

While the COVID-19 relief bill focused on extending unemployment, providing stimulus checks and boosting small businesses, the omnibus focused on a broader set of policy issues.

It included 3 percent pay raises for the military and a 1 percent pay raise for the civilian federal workforce.

It included $1.375 billion for President Trump’s border wall, an issue that has become a central obstacle in passing spending legislation under Trump’s watch. That is the same amount approved last year, though President-elect Joe Biden is not expected to use billions in emergency defense funds to bolster the project, as Trump has.

The legislation maintains several abortion-related restrictions, such as the long-standing Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funds from being used for abortions.

While it doesn’t include the sweeping police reforms House Democrats approved in the wake of George Floyd’s killing this summer, it does include $5 million to create a database to track police misconduct.

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