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Biden signs $1.7 trillion government spending bill into law

Biden signs $1.7 trillion government spending bill into law

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President Joe Biden signed $1.7 trillion on Thursday federal spending bill which included a number of administration priorities and formally avoided a government shutdown, ending what he called a “year of historic progress.”

“Will invest in medical research, safety, veterans health care, disaster recovery, (Violence Against Women Act) funding — and get critical aid to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted.

He added: “We’re looking forward to as early as 2023.”

Biden signed the bill while vacationing on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bill was flown to him for signing, the White House said.

“The White House received the bill from Congress late Wednesday afternoon. The bill was delivered to the president for signature by White House staff on a scheduled commercial flight,” a White House official told reporters.

It is at least for the second time this year that an important bill was flown to Biden for his signature. During a trip to Asia in May, a bill authorizing about $40 billion in aid to Ukraine was carried by an official who was already scheduled to travel to the region. Biden signed the bill while overseas.

The spending bill represents the last opportunity for Biden and Democrats to put their stamp on government spending before Republicans take over the House majority next week. It caps a remarkably productive two legislative years for Biden, including a Covid-19 relief package, an infrastructure bill and a China competitiveness measure.

The legislation includes $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs and $858 billion in defense funding, according to a summary of the bill by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. This represents an increase in spending in both areas for fiscal year 2023.

The massive package includes roughly $45 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO allies, an overhaul of the vote-counting law, protections for pregnant workers, improvements to retirement savings rules and a ban on TikTok on federal devices.

It would also provide a boost to spending on disaster relief, college access, child care, mental health and nutrition assistance, more support for the military and veterans and additional funds for the Capitol Police, according to Leahy’s summary and one by Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. And the legislation contained several key Medicaid provisions, notably one that could exclude up to 19 million people from the national health insurance program for low-income Americans.

However, the bill, which is more than 4,000 pages long, omitted several measures that some lawmakers fought to include. The expansion of the child tax credit, as well as numerous other corporate and individual tax breaks, were not included in the final bill. Neither is legislation allowing cannabis companies to keep their cash reserves — known as the Safe Banking Act — or a bill to help Afghan evacuees in the U.S. obtain legal permanent residency. And the spending package does not include a White House request for roughly $10 billion in additional funding for the Covid-19 response.

The spending bill, which will keep the government running through September, the end of the fiscal year, is the product of lengthy negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Congress initially passed a continuing resolution on September 30 to temporarily fund the government through fiscal year 2023, which began on October 1.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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