The United States House of Representatives voted 225 to 201 to adopt the $1.7 trillion spending bill Friday. The “omnibus” bill passed the Senate Thursday, and the legislation now goes to President Biden’s desk. The spending bill funds critical government agencies and the military, provides aid to Ukraine. The bill also overhauls the Electoral Count Act of 1887; the law governs the counting of Electoral College votes, which ultimately decides the US Presidency.
The changes proposed to the Electoral Count Act mark the first legislative response to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. Among the updates is a clarification that the Vice President’s role in the count is purely ceremonial. This is a direct response to the pressure campaign enacted upon Mike Pence by Donald Trump and his allies. Pence’s refusal to go along with the plan led the crowd at the insurrection to chant “Hang Mike Pence!”
Included in the funding is nearly $39 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ) with over $10 billion allocated for the investigation of extremist violence and domestic terror. The package also includes $2.6 billion to assist in the prosecution of January 6 defendants. To date, 964 people have been arrested and charged with crimes for their role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Critics of the spending bill, like Representative Chip Roy (R-TX), objected to the legislation’s passage coming largely through proxy voting. Proxy voting allows members to cast votes on legislation without being physically present. The House implemented proxy voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Republicans taking the majority in the House in the November midterm elections, proxy voting is unlikely to survive into the new legislative session.