The Biden administration is asking Congress to provide another $37.7 billion in aid for Ukraine, as well as $10 billion to fund the response to Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. The request was sent by Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tuesday.
Here’s how the White House explained the need for the request:
Ukraine: “We must continue to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and stand resolute in the face of Russia’s brutal war. Since the beginning of Putin’s war, the United States has rallied the world to support Ukraine. Together, with strong, bipartisan support in Congress, we have provided significant assistance that has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield—and we cannot let that support run dry. To date, roughly three-quarters of the funds previously provided by Congress have been disbursed or committed, with even more expected by the end of the year. That’s why we are urging Congress to provide $37.7 billion through the duration of this fiscal year to ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons, and support it needs to defend itself, and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid. The request also addresses the critical global food and energy shortages caused by Russia’s invasion.”
Covid-19: “There remains an urgent need for additional COVID-19 funding to help us stay prepared in the face of an unpredictable virus. While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it was when President Biden took office, we face the emergence of new subvariants in the United States and around the world that have the potential to cause a surge of infections, particularly as we head into the winter months—a time when viruses like COVID spread more quickly. We know how to manage this moment, but as the Administration has long made clear, we need additional resources to ensure that we have the necessary services and supplies to keep the American people safe. That’s why we are requesting $8.25 billion to help prepare for a possible winter surge, smooth the path to commercialization for vaccines and therapeutics, accelerate research and treatment for long COVID, and develop next-generation vaccines and treatments.”
The White House is also requesting $1 billion to combat Covid-19 in other parts of the world, as well as $750 million to fight other infectious diseases, including monkeypox.
Aiming for the lame-duck: Democrats are racing to address emergency funding requests and other budgetary priorities before Republicans take control of the House in January (a handful of races are still up in the air, but the GOP is expected to win the House by a few seats). The emergency funding would likely be folded into an omnibus bill covering the rest of fiscal year 2023; the continuing resolution currently providing funding for the government expires on December 16.
Republicans have opposed previous requests to provide new funding for the Covid-19 response, and some – including Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-CA), who is seeking to become the next speaker – have expressed reservations about providing additional aid to Ukraine. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a rising star on the far right who is expected to have considerable influence in a Republican House, said earlier this month that “under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that the new request was “urgent to make sure that we get them everything that we can possibly get into the omnibus so that they have the weapons to continue the momentum moving through the winter.”