Here are five key last-minute changes made to the omnibus spending bill

US Capitol Building Washington DC
The U.S. Capitol building stands past American flags before sunrise in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Here are five key last-minute changes made to the omnibus spending bill

The Senate passed the $1.7 trillion omnibus package on Thursday, sending the bill to the House in a final effort to avoid a government shutdown.

Now, House Democrats are hoping for a swift passage of the 4,155-page bill that includes billions in defense spending, non-defense discretionary spending, and aid for Ukraine, among countless other provisions.

Senators voted on a series of 15 amendments during the hours-long session, with the package passing 68-29. Below are five last-minute changes added to the spending bill.

Forfeited property to aid Ukraine

Offered by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), this amendment would “authorize the transfer of the proceeds of certain forfeited property to help Ukraine.”

The forfeited property would include areas possessed by or formerly controlled by someone who was subject to sanctions from the Secretaries of State or the Treasury.

The amendment passed in a voice vote, as Tuesday marked the 300th day since Russia invaded Ukraine. Graham, along with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), proposed the legislation months ago seeking to divert the assets from Russian oligarchs to support the U.S.’s efforts to aid Ukraine.

“This change in U.S. law allows the proceeds of seized assets to support Ukrainian war efforts, which is a win-win for the people of Ukraine and the American taxpayer,” Graham said in a statement following the vote. “I expect over time billions of dollars in seized assets will be sent to help Ukraine in their fight for freedom. Our amendment also takes pressure off the American taxpayer.”

Compensation for terrorism victims

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-RI) sponsored a bill that provides specific terrorism victims access to a compensation fund that they previously were excluded from.

The bill, called the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, would allow families of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, victims of the 1983 bombing in the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, and victims of the 1996 attack on the Air Force barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, access to this fund.

Menendez’s bill received pushback originally from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) for not including the Beirut victims, but it passed the Senate, 93-4.

The Pump Act

In a 92-5 vote, the Senate approved the Providing Urgent Material Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act as part of the omnibus package.

The bipartisan act seeks to strengthen breastfeeding protections for workers and was co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“Everyone should have the space and privacy to pump at work, and no one should be forced by their employer to stop nursing,” Merkley wrote in a Twitter post celebrating the act. “This is a win that’s been years in the making!”


Pregnant Fairness Workers Act

Senators passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, 73-24, which will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for their pregnant employees.

Accommodations could include “additional bathroom breaks, light duty, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day,” according to a press release sent out by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Murray, who is the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, cleared the legislation back in 2021. It was co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

“No one should have to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy, and now—finally—they won’t,” Murray said.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the vote “pne of the most significant improvements to workplace protections in years,” per the Hill.


Payment for Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis

Navy Lt. Ridge Alkonis will continue to receive pay and benefits thanks to an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and passed by the Senate in a voice vote on Thursday.

Alkonis had his pay cut when he was serving a three-year sentence in a Japanese prison after a car accident killed two citizens, per Deseret News.

U.S. Navy investigators determined that Alkonis suffered from acute mountain sickness and lost consciousness, while the Japanese accused him of sleeping behind the wheel.

The omnibus package now goes to the House, where it is expected to be voted on sometime on Thursday.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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