The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

The House on Friday passed a sweeping $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, sending a measure to President Joe Biden’s desk that will boost Pentagon spending and provide some $45 billion to aid Ukrainian war efforts.

House lawmakers voted 225-201 to approve the bill nearly three months into the 2023 fiscal year. The Senate passed the measure Thursday, and Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill provides some $858 billion for defense and about $773 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, including a record $303 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It includes a record $119 billion for veterans’ medical care and the implementation of the PACT Act, which was passed in August to provide improved medical access for veterans exposed to burn pits and other environmental hazards while in the military.

“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,” Biden said Friday in a statement issued shortly after the bill passed. “This bill is further proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together to deliver for the American people, and I’m looking forward to continued bipartisan progress in the year ahead.”

In passing the bill, Congress boosted national security spending by some $76 billion from 2022, an about 10% increase. The omnibus bill provides the Pentagon the funding it needs to implement the priorities Congress outlined in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which Biden signed into law earlier Friday.

It was not immediately clear Friday when the omnibus bill would reach the White House. The House also approved a Senate-passed stopgap funding bill Friday, which would keep the government funded through Dec. 30 or until Biden can sign the omnibus bill. Biden was expected to sign the continuing resolution Friday afternoon.

Included in the omnibus is a 4.6% raise for U.S. service members and Defense Department civilian employees — their largest raise in 20 years — and an 11% boost in housing and food allowances for troops.

It includes some $19 billion for new military construction projects and nearly $16 billion for sustainment and improvements of existing military facilities. It provides the Pentagon almost $500 million to implement new efforts to prevent military suicide and sexual assault, including the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.

The bill also boosts spending on military might.

It provides some $162 billion to purchase more than 60 F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets, more than 70 helicopters, and dozens of other military vehicles, ships and planes. It also gives the Pentagon a record $136.7 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation of new-age technology, which includes hypersonic missiles, artificial intelligence applications, and efforts to improve its nuclear enterprise, including building the new B-21 Raider bomber.

It also provides the largest-to-date funding related to the war in Ukraine.

The $45 billion for efforts related to Ukraine’s defense from the Russian invasion launched in February is about $7 billion more than Biden requested. It provides about $16 billion for economic and humanitarian aid, $12 billion to replenish U.S. equipment sent to Ukraine, $9 billion for weapons, training and other support, and an extra $7 billion for U.S. military operations in Europe. The omnibus also includes some $6 million for oversight measures to track where funding provided to Ukraine has been used, a priority for some Republicans in Congress.

The bill would bring U.S. funding to Ukraine to more than $100 billion since the war’s beginning, and it comes just two days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a historic speech in front of a joint meeting of Congress at the U.S. Capitol. Zelenskyy, in his first appearance outside Ukraine since the war’s start, urged Democrats and Republicans to work together to help Ukraine fend off Russia and show support for democracy and other Western values.

While the omnibus package won Republican backing in the Senate and from nine House Republicans, some conservative members of the House attempted to stall the bill’s passage on Friday.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority leader and hopeful for Speaker of the House in the incoming Congress, took to the House floor for more than 20 minutes to blast the bill Friday morning, calling it a “slap in the face” because a new Republican-led House will be sworn in next month.

Stars and Stripes reporter Svetlana Shkolnikova contributed to this report.

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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.

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