Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Ramadan 5, 1444 H
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US Congress to advance $1.66 trillion govt funding bill

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WASHINGTON: Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress were moving forward with a $1.66-trillion government funding bill, scrambling to pass the measure, which includes record military spending, before temporary funding runs out at the end of the week.

The total funding proposed by the bill is up from the approximately $1.5 trillion appropriated the previous year.

The sweeping bill includes other measures agreed on by negotiators from both parties, including a ban on the use of TikTok on government-owned devices and of Congress’s role in certifying elections, an attempt to avoid a repeat of the violence of January 6, 2021.

Leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives aim to pass the bill and send it to Democratic President Joe Biden by the end of the week to ensure no interruptions to the government’s activities.

Failure to pass the package could bring a partial government shutdown beginning on Saturday, just before Christmas, and possibly lead into a months-long stand-off after Republicans take control of the House on January 3, breaking the grip of Biden’s Democrats on both chambers of Congress. Included in the bill is $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and Nato allies and $40.6 billion to assist communities across the United States recovering from natural disasters and other matters.

This would be on top of the record $858 billion in military spending for the year, which is up from last year’s $740 billion and also exceeds Biden’s request.

Democrats and Republicans alike had aimed to tuck as many legislative wish-list items as possible into the “omnibus” bill funding the government through the end of this fiscal year on September 30, 2023, without derailing the whole package.

Negotiators worked through the weekend to put the finishing touches on the bill, which still could be amended by the full House or Senate. — Reuters

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