Image for Congress Approves FY 2022 Spending as Dems Debate Messaging

Five months into Fiscal Year 2022, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion FY 2022 spending bill. A four-day continuing resolution was necessary to allow time to enroll the spending bill that was finally approved in the Senate and House the night before the previous continuing resolution expired.

The omnibus spending bill earned next-day headlines for including $13.6 billion in supplemental aid to Unkraine and dropping a nearly like amount for continuing COVID spending on vaccines, medications and pandemic relief. Congressional earmarks survived in the final compromise as did a variety of unrelated matters including reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The 12 appropriations bills tucked into the overall measure included a $46 billion or 6.7 percent boost in defense spending and a $42 billion or 5.6 percent increase in non-defense spending.

The 2,700-page spending bill passed the Senate on 68-31 vote after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed to schedule a separate vote on a fisheries bill pushed by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and to hold floor votes on three Republican amendments, all of which were defeated. Democratic leaders pledged to act on further pandemic spending in separate legislation.

The befuddling congressional appropriations process drew relatively little detailed media attention in the shadow of Russia’s continuing assault on Ukraine, President Biden’s amped up sanctions against Russia and reports out of the House Democratic Caucus meeting in Philadelphia.

To strengthen Democratic election prospects in this fall’s midterm election, key constituency groups urged more aggressive action by Biden with executive orders on voting rights, immigration reform and student college loan debt cancellation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn invoked President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as precedent for an executive order on voting rights.

 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn invoked President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as precedent for an executive order on voting rights.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called for executive action to reduce immigration case backlogs, provide help for immigrant families and end the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers.  

Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, speaking for the House Progressive Caucus, spoke in favor of an executive order to cancel student college debt.

Democratic House members uniformly complained about overly cautious legal views from White House attorneys on what can be done through executive actions. They also implored Biden and his senior aides to scrap Build Back Better and instead use a theme focused on Democratic achievements, not aspirations. Pelosi has suggested “Democrats Deliver”. Several House members have grumbled that Biden focuses too much on the Senate and takes House Democrats for granted.

Biden spoke at the caucus gathering, emphasizing inflation has surged and gas prices have spiked because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He has begun to refer to specific elements that were part of the $2 trillion Build Back Better legislation, signaling a possible effort before this summer to move a smaller package with full Senate Democratic support or individual policy bills that might attract some bipartisan support.