Written by Josh Buk
The Biden administration is seeking another $ 10 billion to help protect Ukraine from Russian invasion, and another $ 22.5 billion to cover the costs of the pandemic.
Acting Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young outlined requests for additional funding in a blog post Thursday. They will be in addition to the planned budget agreement that Congress is trying to complete by March 11th.
Young said in a blog post that the money was needed urgently. $ 10 billion to Ukraine will be a rapid escalation of the $ 1.4 billion provided by the United States since 2021, reflecting the crisis caused by the Russian offensive that began last month. Young said the money would go to “additional humanitarian, security and economic assistance in Ukraine and the neighboring region in the coming days and weeks.”
Last week, Biden officials told aides in Congress that their requests would include $ 3.5 billion for the Pentagon and $ 2.9 billion for humanitarian aid as Russia’s invasion forced more than a million Ukrainian refugees to flee their country.
$ 22.5 billion related to coronavirus will pay for testing, treatment and vaccines, as well as investment in research and efforts to increase vaccination worldwide. It was expected that the request would be up to $ 30 billion after lawmakers and the Biden and Trump administrations had previously allocated $ 5.8 trillion for a pandemic, according to the non-partisan Committee on Responsible Federal Budget.
The requested assistance to Ukraine seems likely to receive broad bipartisan support in Congress, and the proposed additional spending on COVID-19 has received strong support from Democrats.
“$ 22 billion on COVID is absolutely necessary. In fact, we probably need more, ”said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California.
“For schools to be open, for life to be as normal as possible, we need additional investment in COVID now, not after a new option is possible,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN, said Wednesday. .Y.
Republicans declined a request for additional funding for COVID-19. But if this money is included in a single, huge package, which also finances government agencies and helps Ukraine and NATO allies, it will be difficult to vote against.
Sen. Mitt Romney, of Utah, and 35 other Republican senators wrote to Biden on Tuesday that before supporting the new money, they want a “full account” of how the government has spent the funds already allocated.
According to a table from the Associated Press’s Department of Health and Human Services, COVID-19 relief bills passed since the pandemic contained $ 370 billion for public health programs, including vaccines and other medical supplies, testing, research and compensation. costs.
Of that amount, $ 355 billion is currently being spent, spent or required to perform contracts, the charts say.
The tables were distributed to many members of Congress from both parties, a spokesman for the administration said. But on Wednesday, Romney tweeted that he was still “eager to get” details about COVID’s money.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters Wednesday that the pandemic plan is “reliable and comprehensive” and therefore requires additional funding for immediate and long-term priorities.
Last fiscal year, the federal government spent $ 6.8 trillion, thanks in large part to emergency measures related to the coronavirus, which included a $ 1.9 trillion aid package to President Joe Biden. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal budget was about $ 4.4 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
AP reporter Alan Fram contributed to this report.