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What's included in Congress' $1.7 trillion spending bill

Congressional lawmakers have revealed their $1.7 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown ahead of the holidays. The bill includes measures for many of President Biden's economic plans and marks the last major legislative action of this Congress before the new one convenes in the new year.

The "omnibus," as it's called, covers a wide variety of areas, including defense, healthcare, and foreign and domestic aid. It also increases spending from the last fiscal year, reports The New York Times. The bill will need Republican approval to pass, so Democrats agreed to keep some areas of funding the same as before, like education and health, despite these being priorities for the Biden administration.

The bill includes close to $119 billion for veterans' care, a 22 percent increase. It also cuts pandemic-era Medicaid policies and reduces Medicare rates by 2 percent in 2023 and 3.25 percent in 2024 (in contrast to the 4.5 percent cut from January), Politico explains. The move "will have consequences on health care access for older Americans," according to Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association.

In terms of defense, the bill provides over $40 billion in aid to Ukraine and another $40 billion in aid for natural disasters around the country. In total, the bill allots $858 billion in military spending and $772 billion for domestic programs.

The Senate and then the House must approve the package by Friday to avoid a government shutdown, The Washington Post reports. Democrats need at least ten Republican senators to sign on to the bill. 

"Nobody wants a shutdown, nobody benefits from a shutdown, so I hope nobody will stand in the way of funding the government ASAP," remarked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).