Touting new funding for Democratic priorities and citing an urgency to get the package to President Biden’s desk before a potential shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is urging her troops to get behind a massive bill to fund the government through most of next year.
The outgoing Speaker sent a letter to her fellow Democrats, where she cited a number of Democratic victories in the package, including provisions to hike nutrition funding for low-income children, provide a huge increase in money for veteran health care, and lend assistance to the victims of natural disasters around the country.
This is what Pelosi wrote to her fellow Democrats: “It is urgent and necessary that we enact this omnibus package, so that we may keep government open and delivering for America’s families.” As House Republicans have been highly critical of both the substance of the funding package and the process that led to it, uniting House Democrats behind the proposal could be crucial, reported The Hill.
Republicans have been urging GOP senators to oppose a long-term spending bill in favor of a short-term patch that would grant the incoming House Republican majority more leverage in the negotiations, as they are set to take control of the lower chamber in January.
With a thin House majority, they can likely afford few defections, so House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is vying for the Speaker’s gavel next year and needs the support of conservatives to get it, has joined the chorus of critics, breaking with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is supporting the legislation, and putting more pressure on Pelosi and Democrats to rally behind it.
In order to prevent a recent shutdown, only nine House Republicans had voted earlier this month for a one-week stopgap bill. It is already being warned by a coalition of conservatives of retaliation against GOP senators who support the package – a tactic McCarthy quickly endorsed.
Here is what McCarthy tweeted: “When I’m Speaker, their bills will be dead on arrival in the House if this nearly $2T monstrosity is allowed to move forward over our objections and the will of the American people.”
Federal agencies would be funded through the remainder of fiscal 2023, which runs through September, by the $1.7 trillion spending package, which is known in Washington as an omnibus. Large parts of the government are scheduled to shutter without congressional action.
After weeks of tense, post-midterm negotiations between three top appropriators, the legislation arrived. The appropriators were Sens. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.), a close Pelosi ally, while the absence of DeLauro’s counterpart, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), reflects the opposition of House GOP leaders to the process.
$858 billion for defense programs, which is almost $80 billion over current levels, is what the package features, with $773 billion for other domestic initiatives, including $119 billion for veterans’ health care, a 22 percent increase over this year’s spending.
In order to promote the bump in health care spending as well as other provisions they secured as part of the talks, Pelosi and other Democratic supporters reacted quickly.
New medical funding for low-income families under Medicaid was at the top of that list, which is an increase in money for mental health services, and almost $45 billion in new assistance – both military and humanitarian – to help Ukraine weather Russia’s long-running invasion.
The inclusion of the Electoral Count Act is also being cheered up by Pelosi, which is designed to ensure the smooth and peaceful transfer of power between administrations. That bill came as a direct response to President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat in 2020 and the rampage at the U.S. Capitol that followed.
“That will help thwart future attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power like we saw on January 6th,” wrote Pelosi.
But still, neither side gets everything it wants, as the bipartisan nature of the package ensures. A number of Democratic priorities were also excluded from the legislation.