President Joe Biden didn’t bother to come home from his luxury vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday… despite spending $1.7 trillion in taxpayer dollars.
Biden signed the massive spending bill and headed right back to the beach.
The Democratic-controlled House passed the bill 225-201, mostly along party lines, just before Christmas. The House vote came a day after the Senate, also led by Democrats, voted 68-29 to pass the bill with Republican support.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader who hopes to become speaker when a new session Congress opens on Jan. 3, argued during floor debate that the bill spends too much and does too little to curb illegal immigration and the deadly flow of fentanyl into the U.S. from Mexico.
“This is a monstrosity that is one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen in this body,” McCarthy said of the massive spending bill.
McCarthy, an establishment favorite, is trying to win support from staunch conservatives in the GOP caucus, who have blasted the bill for its wild cost and scope. Republicans will have a narrow House majority come Jan. 3 and several conservative members have vowed not to vote for McCarthy to become speaker.
The funding bill includes a roughly 6% increase in spending for domestic initiatives, to $772.5 billion. Spending on defense programs will increase by about 10%, to $858 billion.
Passage was done just hours before financing for federal agencies was set to expire. Lawmakers had approved two short-term spending measures to keep the government operating, and a third, funding the government through Dec. 30, passed last Friday. Biden signed it to ensure services would continue until Congress sent him the full-year measure, called an omnibus bill.
The massive bill, which topped out at more than 4,000 pages, wraps together 12 appropriations bills, aid to Ukraine, and disaster relief for communities recovering from natural disasters. It also contains scores of policy changes that lawmakers worked to include in the final major bill considered by that session of Congress.
Lawmakers provided roughly $45 billion for Ukraine and NATO allies, more than even Biden had requested, an acknowledgment that future rounds of funding are not guaranteed when Republicans take control of the House next week following the party’s gains in the midterm elections.
Though support for Ukraine aid has largely been bipartisan, some House Republicans have opposed the spending and argued that the money would be better spent on priorities in the United States.
McCarthy has warned that Republicans will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine in the future.
The White House said it received the bill from Congress late Wednesday afternoon. It was delivered to flown down to the U.S. Virgin Islands for Biden’s signature.
Biden signed the bill Thursday in , where he is spending time with his wife, Jill, and other family members on the island of St. Croix. The Bidens are staying at the home of friends Bill and Connie Neville, the White House said. Bill Neville owns US Viking, maker of ENPS, a news production software system that is sold by The Associated Press.
Among the spending increases Democrats emphasized: a $500 increase in the size of grants for low-income college students, a $100 million increase in block grants to states for addiction programs, a 22% increase in spending on veterans’ medical care, and $3.7 billion in payments to farmers and ranchers hit by natural disasters.
The bill also provides roughly $15.3 billion in spending on more than 7,200 projects that lawmakers put in for their home states and districts. Under revamped rules for community project funding, also referred to as earmarks, lawmakers must post their requests online and attest they have no financial interest in the projects.
Many fiscal conservatives criticize the earmarking as leading to unnecessary spending.
The Associated Press contributed to this article