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Congress races against the clock to pass budget, avoid shutdown

Congress Budget
Posted at 4:00 AM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 12:05:20-05

WASHINGTON — U.S. Congress put the finishing touches on a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill to fund the U.S. government through September.

Government funding runs out on Dec. 23 and the expectation was that it would pass both chambers in time to avoid a shutdown.

However, in Congress, nothing is official until it actually passes.

WHAT'S IN IT

The spending package pushes around $45 billion in new funding for Ukraine and its defense against Russian troops.

It includes around $40 billion for relief from natural disasters, like the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.

The budget even proposes a ban on federal employees using TikTok on government-owned devices.

LOSERS IN BUDGET

There are plenty of losers in this appropriations package.

The cannabis industry was hoping this Congress would pass more reforms, like the chance for dispensary owners in states where cannabis is legal to have better access to the federal banking system. SAFE Banking was ultimately not included in the budget.

Another frustrated group is immigration advocates. There was a chance that comprehensive immigration reform would be included in this bill, but that never materialized.

As a result, DACA recipients — immigrants who came to the United States without official documentation as children — will remain in limbo as their immigration status continues to be challenged in the courts.

Afghan refugees, who were resettled in the United States after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, faced disappointment in the budget as well.

The Afghan Adjustment Act would have given these refugees a pathway to permanent, legal status in the United States. Because it wasn't included, the risk of deportation now exists.

The final "loser" in the appropriations act is the expanded child tax credit. There was a debate in Congress to bring back the 2021 benefit, but ultimately it was deemed too controversial for this must-pass legislation.

WHAT'S NEXT

To be clear, each one of these policy ideas could be brought up in the new Congress that takes over in January.

However, more gridlock is expected on Capitol Hill over the next two years, with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House.