A massive spending bill that will fund the federal government through September – as well as provide $13.6 billion in fresh aid to Ukraine as the country fights back against Russia’s invasion – was signed into law by President Joe Biden Tuesday.
The spending package, known as the omnibus, will provide funding through fiscal year 2022, which started in October. Lawmakers have been negotiating over the legislation for months and have passed three stopgap funding bills to keep the government running in the meantime. That means federal agencies have been funded at 2021 levels for the past five months.
The text of the 2,741-page bill was released last week. Congress had to pass the legislation, or another stopgap bill, by midnight last Friday to avoid a government shutdown. The House passed the bill on Wednesday night and the Senate passed the bill on Thursday evening.
The spending package calls for more than $1.5 trillion in annual appropriations, excluding the Ukraine aid. That’s more than a 6% increase from the year before, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The legislation will provide $730 billion in non-defense funding – a 6.7% increase over fiscal year 2021 – the largest jump in four years, according to the House Appropriations Committee. It also will provide $782 billion in defense funding, a 5.6% increase over fiscal year 2021.
Here’s what some of the money will fund, according to summaries and fact sheets provided by the House Appropriations Committee:
Increases for congressional offices, staff and police
The law calls for an increase in funding for congressional offices by 21%, to $774.4 million, so they can recruit and retain a diverse workforce. It will be the largest boost in the Members Representational Allowance appropriation since its authorization in 1996. The package will also provide $18.2 million to pay interns.
It will provide $602.5 million for the Capitol Police, an increase of $87 million. This will allow for the hiring of up to 2,112 sworn officers and 450 civilian members of the Capitol Police.
A boost for the IRS
The spending package will provide $12.6 billion for the Internal Revenue Service, an increase of $675 million, the largest since 2001.
The funding boost is intended to help the IRS improve its customer service, increase enforcement, modernize its technology and improve its web applications. It also will provide special funding transfer authority and direct hire authority to help the agency deal with a massive backlog of returns and correspondence.
Money for election security
The package will provide $75 million for election security grants to bolster state efforts to improve the security and integrity of elections for federal office. It also will give the Election Assistance Commission $20 million for operating expenses, a boost of $3 million.
Schools and financial aid boost
The law will provide $17.5 billion for high-poverty K-12 schools, an increase of $1 billion, the largest in more than a decade. And it calls for increasing funding for Head Start by $289 million to $11 billion.
The maximum Pell Grant will increase by $400, to $6,895 a year. Pell Grants are generally awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial needs, and the amounts are based on their costs to attend school, family sizes and incomes.
The increase will be the largest to the maximum Pell Grant in more than a decade, according to a summary of the bill. The Build Back Better package, which passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate, had called for increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by $550.
Funds for medical research and public health
The package will provide more funding for biomedical and behavioral research at the National Institutes of Health, which will receive $45 billion in funding, an increase of $2.25 billion. It will include $1 billion to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health in order to speed up the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.
It will send $8.5 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $582 million. And it will invest in the nation’s public health infrastructure and public health and behavioral health initiatives, including $83 million for safe motherhood and infant health, an increase of $20 million, and nearly $212 million for mental health resources for children and youth, an increase of $25 million.
Unlocks new infrastructure investment
The passage of the spending bill will allow the release of some of the funding authorized by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in November.
Due to a budgeting quirk, some of the money could not be spent until the fiscal year 2022 appropriations measure is signed into law. The restriction affects a portion of the funds slated for the federal highway program and public transit programs, for example.
Renews the Violence Against Women Act
The law renews the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 2018, by increasing funding for its prevention and prosecution programs, as well as efforts to reduce the backlog of unprocessed rape kits, according to a fact sheet.
Child nutrition programs
The package will provide $26.9 billion in funding for child nutrition programs, an increase of $1.77 billion above what was approved for fiscal year 2021.
However, the spending law does not extend the pandemic waivers that provide schools with extra federal funds and increased flexibilities to cope with Covid-19 outbreaks, as well as supply chain and labor issues. A one-year extension of the waivers, which Congress originally approved in March 2020, would have cost $11 billion.
The law will also authorize funds so that more fruits and vegetables can be included in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children food packages.
More housing aid
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will get an increase of $4 billion over the previous year, for a total of $53.7 billion, according to a summary.
Some of the funds will create 25,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers for low-income individuals and families at risk of homelessness, including survivors of domestic violence and veterans. Eligible people can use the vouchers to find their own housing and pay rent.
The spending package will increase funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency by $568.7 million, for a total of $2.6 billion to prevent cyberattacks and protect critical infrastructure and communications systems, according to a fact sheet.
Closing a vaping loophole
A provision in the law targets vaping products that remained on the market despite growing efforts to clamp down on flavors that are especially popular among young people. It will move synthetic nicotine under the US Food and Drug Administration’s authority, according to an announcement Wednesday by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat.
While the FDA has authority over tobacco products, some companies have made their own synthetic nicotine in the lab. Because synthetic nicotine doesn’t come from tobacco, companies have managed to circumvent the agency’s oversight and keep their flavored products on shelves.
Spending on defense and national security makes up more than half of the spending package. The measure calls for an increase in funds for military personnel, operations, research and the purchase of ground vehicles, aircraft, ships, munition and other equipment, according to a summary.
The $13.6 billion would provide additional humanitarian, security and economic assistance for Ukraine and allies in the region.
Roughly half of the aid package would be used to deploy troops to the region and send defense equipment to Ukraine, according to a summary of the bill provided by the House Appropriations Committee.
The US has deployed thousands of troops throughout Europe, both before and during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But putting troops on the ground in Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, is a line that the US and its Western allies have not been willing to cross.
Much of the other half of the aid would provide humanitarian support for refugees fleeing Ukraine and people displaced within the country, including emergency food assistance, as well as help to respond to the economic needs in Ukraine and neighboring countries, such as cybersecurity and energy issues.
What’s not in the bill? Covid-19 relief
The bill text originally included $15.6 billion to fund the government’s Covid-19 response efforts in the US and around the world, including research and development of treatments and vaccines.
But the funding was stripped from the bill in a last-minute effort to lock down votes last week. Republicans had pushed for the money to be offset by previously approved Covid-19 relief funds for state governments that had yet to be used, but many Democrats raised objections about the way those offsets were structured.
Instead, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, introduced a stand-alone bill with the Covid-19 response funds. But it’s unlikely that the separate package would get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.