Chuck Schumer Announces Agreement to Pass Omnibus Bill Before Christmas

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gestures, walking out of the Senate Chamber, c
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Update: The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill. The vote was 68-29. This story is developing. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Thursday morning announced an agreement to advance the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill before Christmas weekend.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Democrats have been working to pass the omnibus bill before a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to avoid a shutdown at midnight on Friday. But negotiations become sticky after Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Title 42 amendment threw a wrench in the Senate process. As a result, many critics of the deal were hopeful Congress would be forced to pass a short-term spending resolution (CR) to keep the government open, pending a continued standoff between Democrats on Lee’s amendment.

If Congress passed a short-term CR to keep the government open until February, conservative House Republicans would receive a significant victory. Defeating the omnibus bill would improve House Republicans’ position in the new Congress to gut many of the proposals in the massive spending bill. One of those proposals to cut would presumably have been the $45 billion worth of aid to Ukraine. The $45 billion is in addition to the $66 billion Congress already approved for Ukraine.

But Schumer has come up with a procedural tactic to circumvent Lee’s amendment and avoid failing to pass the massive bill before Christmas. According to Punchbowl News, Schumer has drafted a side-by-side amendment on Title 42, which is crafted to cancel Lee’s amendment by giving Democrats and Republicans each a vote.

Schumer told reporters the tactic will allow the $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill to pass the Senate Thursday, enabling senators to go home before Christmas, a self-imposed deadline by Schumer’s negotiating colleague, McConnell, who has publicly supported the massive bill.

After the Senate votes on the package, it will head to the House for approval. If all goes well in both chambers, President Joe Biden will sign the bill into law:

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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