US lower house passes bill to keep gov’t open

Washington, Dec 23 (EFE).- The House of Representatives approved on Friday a $1.7 trillion measure to continue funding the operations of the United States government through Sept. 30, 2023.

The Omnibus Bill, which already cleared the Senate, passed by a vote of 225-201, as nine Republicans joined the Democratic majority in support of the legislation just hours before a looming government shutdown.

“The bipartisan funding bill advances key priorities for our country and caps off a year of historic bipartisan progress for the American people,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“This bill is good for our economy our competitiveness, and our communities – and I will sign it into law as soon as it reaches my desk,” the Democrat in the White House said.

More than half of the House members cast their votes remotely, having left Washington ahead of a massive winter storm that is snarling transportation nationwide.

Democrats were anxious to pass the Omnibus Bill before the new Republican majority takes charge of the chamber on Jan. 3.

The bill authorizes $858 billion in military spending while providing $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, as well as $40.6 billion to deal with natural disasters in the US and $44.9 billion in additional aid for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Washington on Wednesday to meet with Biden and address a joint session of Congress.

Besides the spending provisions, the 4,000-page bill includes an amendment to the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which allies of then-President Donald Trump invoked in a bid to nullify his defeat to Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Trump exerted pressure on his vice president, Mike Pence, to refuse to certify the electoral vote tallies from states won by Biden.

On the day Pence was supposed to certify the vote in a joint session of Congress, Jan. 6, 2021, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to disrupt the session, causing a riot that left five people dead.

Under the amended Electoral Count Act, the vice president cannot reject electoral votes certified by the states. EFE


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