Bipartisan COVID-19 and Omnibus Spending Bill Enrolled, Sent to Trump: Pelosi

Bipartisan COVID-19 and Omnibus Spending Bill Enrolled, Sent to Trump: Pelosi
(Left) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to reporters in Washington, on Oct. 1, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images); (Right) House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks at the weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Dec. 3, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that a $2.3 trillion spending package has now been sent to President Donald Trump for signature. The announcement comes after efforts to increase the $600 stimulus checks in the deal to $2,000 apparently failed earlier in the day.

“The bipartisan COVID relief & omnibus bill has been enrolled. The House & Senate are now sending this important legislation #ForThePeople to the White House for the President’s signature,” Pelosi said in a Twitter post. “We urge him to sign this bill into law to give immediate relief to hard-working families!”

The funding measure was agreed on by the House and the Senate on Sunday following months of stalled negotiations and posturing. The more than 5,500-page bill passed both houses of Congress to the dismay of some lawmakers—from both sides of the aisle—who said they did not have sufficient time to read the mammoth bill.

The package includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill that will fund defense spending and domestic programs and $900 billion in COVID-19 pandemic relief. The bill was heavily criticized by President Donald Trump and others for “wasteful items” and “unnecessary” spending such as sending hundreds of millions of dollars overseas for foreign aid and funding domestic programs for entities that are “not even open for business.”

Trump, in a video message on Tuesday, threatened to veto the bill unless more money is given to the American people as stimulus checks.

Efforts to increase the direct payments from $600 per person to $2,000 failed to gain support from both sides of the aisle. A unanimous consent filed by House Democrats to increase the payments was blocked by Republicans, while a counter unanimous consent to revisit foreign spending filed by House Republicans was rejected by Democrats.

Pelosi vowed earlier on Thursday that she would call House members back into session on Monday to vote on the $2,000 direct payments.
“Monday, I will bring the House back to a session where we will hold a recorded vote on our standalone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000,” Pelosi said in a statement. “To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need.”

Foreign Aid

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being sent as forms of aid to foreign countries and other forms of American engagement abroad, according to the omnibus bill. This spending has come under intense scrutiny in recent days.
The bill provides $1.4 billion under the 2018 Asia Reassurance Initiative Act. This law seeks to promote U.S. security interests in the Indo-Pacific region such as providing funds to counter certain destabilizing activities by the Chinese Communist Party and resisting emerging threats like the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of North Korea.

It also provides $500 million to Israel under the Israeli Cooperative Programs framework, which includes such expenditures as $73 million for procurement of Iron Dome defense system components to counter short-range rocket threats and $177 million for Israel’s Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program.

Moreover, Trump on Tuesday was concerned that a significant amount was going to other countries instead of struggling Americans.

“This bill contains $85.5 million for assistance to Cambodia, $134 million to Burma, $1.3 billion for Egypt and the Egyptian military, which will go out and buy almost exclusively Russian military equipment, $25 million for democracy and gender programs in Pakistan, $505 million to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama,” he said.

Tom Ozimek and Masooma Haq contributed to this report.