US spending bill: what's in the $1.5tn bipartisan package?

Congress gives final approval to $13.6bn in aid to Ukraine

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news briefing at the US Capitol. AFP
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The US Senate on Thursday night gave final approval to Ukrainian aid and a spending package that will fund the federal government through September.

Despite partisan fighting over inflation and pandemic relief, they rallied behind sending aid to Ukraine as the country continues to ward off unprovoked Russian aggression.

The $1.5 trillion bill received bipartisan approval in the upper chamber after the House of Representatives easily passed it on Wednesday.

“The bipartisan funding bill proves once more that members of both parties can come together to deliver results for the American people,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

Here is a look at the $1.5tn package heading to President Joe Biden's desk.

Aid to Ukraine

Congress approved $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, which has stubbornly resisted the Russian invasion since the war began.

The money will help provide weapons and other equipment to Kyiv, as well as funds to provide humanitarian assistance to citizens.

By comparison, Russia, whose forces have been bombarding Ukraine for two weeks, had a military budget of $62 million in 2020, the World Bank reported.

“The Ukrainian people are fighting for their lives and fighting for the survival of their young democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

“Congress has a moral obligation to stand behind them as they resist the evils of Vladimir Putin and his campaign of carnage.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday indicated that the $13.6bn in Ukrainian aid is just the beginning, though a timetable on more funding is unclear.

Defence funding

The US boosted its defence funding for 2022, providing $728.5bn in discretionary funding, up from $32.5bn the previous year.

In addition to the Ukrainian aid, the bill will provide assistance to Nato allies in an effort to deter Russian aggression.

The $728.5bn will also go towards investment in research in development, address gender-based violence in the military and confront the climate crisis by providing $120m for climate infrastructure programmes, a summary of the bill showed.

Election security

The bipartisan package, which Mr Biden is expected to sign on Friday, will provide $75m to help states buttress the security and integrity of federal elections.

The Election Assistance Commission will also receive $20m for operating expenses.

A push for voting rights has been at the top of the Democrats' agenda since the party took control of both chambers of Congress in 2020.

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Funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency comes in at $568.7m ($2.6bn total).

The funding will go towards preventing cyber attacks, protecting communications systems and mitigating cyber intrusions.

Plans for Covid-19 relief scrapped

Democrats in the House scrapped a plan to include $15.6bn for the US Covid-19 response at the last minute on Wednesday night.

Republicans opposed funds going towards Covid relief, arguing that the money already allocated from the American Rescue Plan should be fully accounted for before providing more relief.

Rank-and-file Democrats rebelled against how those funds would be offset.

The $15.6bn Democrats wanted would have helped the US to obtain vaccines in preparation for future variants.

Democrats hope to revisit Covid aid next week, though they are likely to face Republican resistance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: March 11, 2022, 4:12 PM