The House on Wednesday approved a $1.5 trillion federal spending bill after dropping Covid aid from the package, The New York Times reports.
The House advanced the bill after dropping $15.6 billion in pandemic aid from the legislation. The money was supposed to fund President Joe Biden’s plan to expand testing, therapeutics, vaccines, and efforts to stop new variants.
Administration officials initially said they needed $30 billion in new funding but ultimately requested $22.5 billion.
That number got whittled down in negotiations with Republicans, who objected to more pandemic funding.
Democrats agreed to instead take funding from other programs, including $7 billion set aside to help state governments in last year’s sprawling $1.9 trillion Covid aid package.
But the move drew pushback from progressive lawmakers and Democratic governors, leading Democrats to drop the measure entirely.
Numerous Democrats threatened to oppose the bill if it reallocated money approved for their states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lamented the move in a letter to colleagues.
“It is heartbreaking to remove the Covid funding, and we must continue to fight for urgently needed Covid assistance, but unfortunately that will not be included in this bill,” she wrote.
The bill passed 260-171 and is now headed to the Senate.
“This compromise is not the bill that Republicans would have written on our own,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “But I am proud of the major concessions we have extracted from this all-Democrat government.”
The bill includes more than $13 billion in humanitarian and military aid for Ukraine and boosts funding for numerous federal agencies.
Democrats increased domestic spending by $46 billion to $730 billion and approved $782 billion in military spending.
“For the first time in a long time, I believe we show just how government can work for working people once again and to achieve the betterment of humankind,” said Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.