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US Congress to advance $1.66 trillion government funding bill

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WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) – Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress were pushing ahead with a $1.66 trillion government funding bill, rushing to pass the measure, which includes record military spending , before the temporary funding runs out at the end of the week.

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

The far-reaching bill includes other measures agreed to by negotiators on both sides, including a ban on the use of TikTok on government-owned devices and a clarification of Congress’s role in certifying elections, an attempted to avoid a repetition of the violence of January 1st. 6, 2021.

Senate and House of Representatives leaders aim to pass the bill and send it to Democratic President Joe Biden by the end of the week so as not to disrupt government operations.

Failure to pass the package could result in a partial government shutdown starting Saturday, just before Christmas, and possibly lead to a months-long stalemate after Republicans take control of the House on Jan. 1. 3, breaking the grip of Biden Democrats on both houses of Congress.

Bill includes $44.9 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine and NATO allies and $40.6 billion to help communities across the United States recover from disasters natural and other problems.

That 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 claim.

Democrats and Republicans aimed to include as many legislative wishlist items as possible in the “omnibus” bill funding the government through the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 1. 30 2023, without derailing the whole package.

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

“From funding nutrition programs and housing assistance, to home energy costs and total accessibility, our bipartisan, bicameral, omnibus appropriations bill invests directly in easing the burden of inflation on the American people,” Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement. . .

Among the most significant additions is the bipartisan Voter Count Act, which revises and clarifies the Congressional certification process for presidential elections.

Democrats and many Republicans see the measure as crucial to avoiding a repeat of the chaos that unfolded nearly two years ago when a mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked the Capitol building in an attempt to reverse the victory of Biden.

US lawmakers also included a proposal to ban federal employees from using the Chinese app TikTok on government-owned devices. And they backed a proposal to lift an impending deadline for a new safety standard for modern cockpit alerts for two new versions of Boeing Co. (TO PROHIBIT) 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing and aviation unions lobbied for the provision’s inclusion, while safety advocates — including relatives of those who died in the 737 MAX plane crashes — pushed back strongly.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Gram Slattery in Washington, additional reporting by Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Washington-based correspondent covering campaigns and Congress. Previously posted in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Santiago, Chile, and has reported extensively throughout Latin America. Co-winner of the 2021 Reuters Journalist of the Year award in the business coverage category for a series on corruption and fraud in the oil industry. He was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College.