House Clears $1.7 Trillion Spending Package, Averting Shutdown

The vote was sparsely attended, after more than half of the House submitted the pandemic-era letter that allows a colleague to vote on their behalf.

The spending package is widely seen as the last guaranteed bill to keep the government funded, as Republicans prepare to take control of the House on Jan. 3 and leverage their new majority to force the Biden administration and Democrats to accept deep spending cuts that liberals have vowed to oppose. It served as a swan song for lawmakers retiring after decades in Congress — notably, Senators Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, from the helm of the Appropriations Committee — and champions of the spending process who are stepping away from leadership, like Ms. Pelosi and Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader.

The vote tally exposed the stark contrast between House and Senate Republicans and their opposing approaches to government spending, foreshadowing potentially bitter political battles in the new year. More than a third of Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the bill, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.

“I have concerns about the size and scope of the package,” said Representative Kay Granger of Texas, who is poised to remain the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

“I’m disappointed that I’m unable to support this bill,” she added, citing the increase for programs unrelated to military spending.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader trying to lock up the elusive votes needed to be the House speaker over a narrow Republican majority, delivered a barbed, roughly 25-minute speech in opposition to the sprawling package. He directly criticized the retiring lawmakers who crafted the measure, pilloried the proxy voting system that lawmakers in both parties used to avoid voting in person and lamented the opaqueness of the laborious process that led to the release of the sprawling package this week.

“This monstrosity is one of the most shameful acts I have ever seen in this body,” Mr. McCarthy said, ticking through what he called the worst parts of the legislation. That list included the increase in spending for domestic programs, some of the projects requested by Democrats like Mr. Leahy and Ms. DeLauro, and what he condemned as “woke handouts.”



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