US President Joe Biden has signed a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill into law, averting a government shutdown after weeks of partisan debate. In addition to funding federal agencies, the legislation contains measures barring TikTok on government devices and around $45 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Biden announced the move in a social media post on Thursday night while still on vacation in the US Virgin Islands, saying the bill would cap off a “year of historic progress.”
“It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, [Violence Against Women Act] funding – and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” he said.
The bill sets aside $773 billion for non-defense discretionary spending – 6% higher compared to last year – and $858 billion for the military, or an increase of $76 billion over 2021. Another $45 billion will go to Ukraine, including $9 billion to train and equip the country’s armed forces, $13 billion in economic assistance, $4 billion for refugee relief efforts and $300 million for local police and border guards. Additionally, $687 million will help to replenish strained US weapons stocks, following more than $20 billion in direct aid to Kiev since Russia’s military operation began in late February.
Federal workers will also be prohibited from downloading the TikTok app on government devices under the new legislation, after some lawmakers raised privacy concerns about its Beijing-based parent firm, ByteDance. Echoing other Republicans, Senator Josh Hawley argued the application poses “a major security risk to the United States,” saying “until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices.”
More than a dozen US states have already blocked or restricted access to TikTok from government computers, and lawmakers in the House of Representatives were reportedly instructed to delete the app on state devices earlier this week after the Office of Cybersecurity claimed it identified “a number of security risks.”
Scores of House Republicans had vocally opposed the omnibus spending bill, insisting the vote be postponed until the GOP takes control of Congress in January. Due to intense disagreement over several issues, including aid for Ukraine, lawmakers were forced to pass a stop-gap measure to avoid a government shutdown last month, but the two parties later reached compromises for the $1.7 trillion legislation.