House Passes $1.7 Trillion Spending Bill That Includes Boost To Arts, Public Broadcasting Funding

Congress cleared a massive, $1.7 trillion year-end spending bill on Friday that boosts funding for the arts and for public broadcasting.

The 225-201 passage in the House, one day after the bill was approved by the Senate in a 68-29 bipartisan vote, also averts a government shutdown.

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President Joe Biden is expected to sign the spending bill, which is for fiscal year 2023.

The bill increases funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by $27 million. Their budgets will now each be at a high of $207 million.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting will get an increase of $10 million to $535 million, for fiscal year 2025. The CPB, which provides grants to public stations, operates on an advanced appropriations cycle. The bill also provides the CPB with $60 million for interconnection technology, $31 million for the Ready to Learn program and $56 million to fund a next generation warning system.

The legislation does not include a bill that would have allowed newspapers and broadcast stations to jointly negotiate with major tech platforms for their content. Facebook mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign against the Journalism Competition And Preservation Act earlier this month, threatening that it would remove news from the platform altogether if it passed rather than “submit to government mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

Lawmakers had looked to the omnibus bill — the final one to pass this Congress — as a way to attach a host of legislative priorities.

The legislation does include a bill to increase merger filing fees as a way to increase antitrust enforcement. A series of antitrust bills that cleared congressional committees, designed to rein in the power of big tech, failed to make it into the final package.

The omnibus bill also includes changes to the Electoral Count Act to make it clear that the vice president’s role in the counting of presidential electoral votes is ceremonial. That is a response to efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors on January 6. Pence determined that it was not within his constitutional authority to do so.

The bill also includes $45 billion in aid to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, thanking lawmakers for support for the country’s defense of a Russian invasion, and appealing to them for continued assistance.

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