Congress passed a $1.5 trillion spending package Thursday that sends further military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and funds the federal government through the end of September.
The spending bill increases funding for the military and nearly every non-defense agency, with federal domestic spending set to reach $715 billion and defense funding $782 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year.
The Senate cleared the bill Thursday with a bipartisan vote of 68-31. The House passed the spending measure the previous day in two separate votes, with the portion containing defense spending passing by a vote of 361-69, and the non-defense portion passing by a vote of 260-171.
The bill was temporarily stalled in the House after multiple Democrats refused to allow Congress to offset $15.6 billion in new COVID-19 aid with previously approved but unspent relief funds. To get the bill over the finish line, Democratic House leaders removed the COVID-19 aid provision—which sought to replenish federal health programs that provide tests, treatments, and vaccines—and now instead hope to pass a separate bill on COVID-19 relief funding next week.
The omnibus bill will now head to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Here are some of the bill’s most significant provisions.
$13.6 billion for aid to Ukraine
The package delivers nearly $14 billion in emergency funding to help address the emerging humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and shore up the country’s defense against Russia, including $4 billion for humanitarian aid, $3.5 billion for sending new military equipment and $3 billion for deploying U.S. troops to the region.
The largest segment of humanitarian aid—$2.65 billion to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—goes toward providing emergency food assistance, health care and urgent support for vulnerable populations and communities in Ukraine. USAID will also fund an additional $120 million in initiatives to provide support for activists, journalists and independent media to help promote public messaging and accountability for Russian human rights violations.
$1.4 billion to the State Department will fund migration and refugee assistance to provide support for refugee outflows from Ukraine. More than 2 million Ukrainians have fled their country in the 13 days since Russia began its invasion, according to a tracker from the U.N. refugee agency. $1.76 billion will go towards helping Ukraine respond to macroeconomic and governmental needs such as protecting its electrical grid from disruption. The legislation also allows Biden to transfer an additional $3 billion in excess defense equipment to Ukraine and other regional U.S. allies if needed.
The Biden Administration originally called on lawmakers to approve $10 billion in aid to Ukraine, but bipartisan efforts and staunch support from the House led that figure to grow in the face of a worsening Russian onslaught and pleas from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for more equipment.
$1.45 billion for southern border response
Republicans won a few concessions in the bill—notably increased military spending—but they also secured more than $23 billion for two key federal agencies that oversee immigration: Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Protection (CBP).
$1.45 billion will go towards managing the volume of migrants arriving at the southern border, including $1.06 billion to CBP for processing facilities, migrant medical care, and transportation. $30 million will fund new body-worn cameras and video recording equipment for Border Patrol stations, and $72.4 million will be invested in new aircraft and aircraft sensors.
U.S. border officials processed migrants at the southwest border 153,941 times in January, according to CBP data provided to a federal court in Texas, marking a 14% decrease from the previous month.
$4 billion for rural development programs
After 2021’s bipartisan infrastructure bill provided a $65 billion investment in rural infrastructure to increase broadband access, the latest spending measure invests an additional $4 billion for rural development programs.
Of that amount, $550 million will go towards the expansion of broadband service and $450 million for the ReConnect program, which provides loans and grants to cover the cost of broadband construction and improvement. The White House estimates that more than 30 million Americans live in areas that lack broadband infrastructure to provide minimally acceptable speeds.
Additional spending will be invested in basic utility infrastructure, including $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans and over $653 million in grants to provide safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal systems.
$24.6 billion for student financial assistance
Biden called for sweeping higher education reforms during his State of the Union address on March 1, including a $2,000 Pell Grant expansion and additional HBCU and community college funding. The spending bill partly accomplishes these goals, increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $400—the largest increase in the maximum award in more than a decade—and authorizing $363 million in HBCU funding. In total, the bill provides $24.6 billion for federal student aid programs, an increase of $35 million from the previous year.
Climate change investments
The bill provides record funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $3.2 billion, $338 million more than the previous year—but less than what House Democrats had proposed.
The funding will support the production of clean and affordable energy sources. An additional $78.3 million will fund the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to address the impacts of climate change in farming and rural communities, including research on clean energy technologies and greenhouse gas reductions. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will also receive $7.6 billion—an increase of $313.4 million compared to last year—to enable better scientific research on a variety of topics, including Earth’s changing climate.
2.7% military pay raise
Military families have received consistent increases in their salary in recent years, and with inflation soaring, the spending bill provides full funding to support a 2.7% salary boost for all active-duty troops.
Junior enlisted troops would make about $790 more a year, and more senior officers could make an additional $2,600. The 2.7% figure was calculated using the Employment Cost Index, a federal formula that tracks private sector wages.
$575 million to renew the Violence Against Women Act
The bill reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act—a federal law that provides resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence—capping a years-long effort to renew the landmark legislation after it expired in 2019. The law was first enacted in 1994, but fell apart due to a partisan dispute over an expanded gun provision that Democrats wanted to include in an updated version of the law. The renewed funding will go towards its prevention and prosecution programs.
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