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Sept. 30, 2022, 1:10 p.m. EDT

Ukraine, disaster aid clear Congress in bill to avert government shutdown

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By Katherine Huggins Robert Schroeder

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a stopgap funding bill, sending it to President Joe Biden in a key step to averting a partial government shutdown as the fiscal year ends.

After West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s plan to expedite the permitting process for energy projects was dropped from the bill, Republican senators largely expressed support for the stopgap measure. It passed the Senate in a 72-25 vote on Thursday. House lawmakers voted 230-201 to approve it.

The bill would keep the government open through Dec. 16, well past the Nov. 8 midterm elections. Current funding expires at midnight.

In addition to funding the government through mid-December, the continuing resolution includes money for Ukraine, Afghan refugees and natural disasters.

Related: Biden administration announces new sanctions on Russia after annexation of four Ukrainian regions

The legislation includes $12.4 billion for Ukraine — more than the $11.7 billion requested by the White House — and includes $35 million to respond to potential nuclear and radiological events.

The bill allows for the transfer of up to $3 billion from the Pentagon’s overseas humanitarian account to support Afghan refugee resettlement efforts, and allocates $15.3 million for “investigative activities associated with Afghan resettlement operations.” The bill does not include a pathway for Afghan refugees to become permanent residents, something which a group of veterans had been calling for.

The continuing resolution also includes $2 billion for communities impacted by natural disasters, as well as $2.5 billion in funding for recovery efforts from the fires in New Mexico earlier this year. Another $20 million was allocated specifically to combating the water crisis in Jackson, Miss.

An additional $1 billion is included for funding the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, which helps low income households shoulder the cost of high energy bills. 

“This bill will keep vital services running for the American people through December 16 and provide critical support for Ukraine while we negotiate a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus appropriations bill,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement. “Enacting full year appropriations bills into law must be our top priority.  In a time of rising inflation, when everything costs more — energy, food, fuel, housing — we must respond accordingly.  Running on autopilot after December would be irresponsible.”  

Three things the Biden administration requested were left out of the bill: $22 billion for COVID-19 aid, $4 billion to fight monkeypox and $1.5 billion for emergency uranium purchases to decrease reliance on Russia.

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