By Betsy Klein, CNN
The Biden administration is outlining its request to Congress for the next government funding bill that includes additional money for what it is describing as “four critical needs,” including “support for Ukraine, Covid-19, monkeypox and natural disaster recovery.”
The request comes as lawmakers are set to return to Washington after the August recess facing a major must-pass legislative agenda item: Preventing a government shutdown by the end of the month. Passing a stop-gap spending bill before a deadline of midnight on September 30, when government funding is set to expire, will be a top priority for Congress.
Both chambers are expected to pass some kind of stop-gap funding extension in the upcoming weeks to avert a shutdown. Stop-gap funding bills are known on Capitol Hill as a continuing resolution, or CR for short.
The administration has advised Congress with “technical assistance” on what funding is needed in a CR to avoid disruptions to public services, but it is also asking for extra resources for those four key areas, Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young said in a blog post.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, the White House is requesting $11.7 billion for security and economic assistance for Ukraine and an additional $2 billion “to help address the impacts Putin’s war has had on domestic energy supply and reduce energy costs in the future,” Young said.
That $13.7 billion request includes $4.5 billion for equipment; $2.7 billion for military, intelligence, and other defense support; $4.5 billion for direct budget support to Ukraine; and $1.5 billion for “uranium to fuel US nuclear reactors to offset a potential decrease in Russian supplies and $500 million for modernizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce domestic energy costs and ensure sustainable access to energy resources,” per a summary from the OMB.
So far, the US has provided approximately $13 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began February 24, a National Security Council official told CNN. The US has also provided $7 billion in grants for direct budget support and over $1.5 billion of humanitarian aid for Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees.
The Biden administration is also re-upping its request for more than $22 billion in funding for the Covid-19 response. Congress has failed to pass additional Covid relief funding that the White House says is needed for vaccines, testing, and treatments. The White House requested $22.5 billion in funding for the administration’s Covid-19 response earlier this year, and Friday’s request totals $22.4 billion.
Officials have repeatedly warned of the consequences of not passing this funding as it takes steps toward moving the Covid-19 response to the commercial market in the coming months.
“The lack of additional funding has prevented us from adequately replenishing our national stockpile of at-home tests, forced us to suspend sending free tests to Americans, and leaves our domestic testing capacity diminished for a potential fall surge,” Young said, adding that these resources would help the US “stay on our front foot” with money for “immediate short-term domestic needs.”
And the administration is seeking more money for the monkeypox outbreak.
“To continue meeting the fast-evolving threat of monkeypox, successfully end the current outbreak, and prepare for any future outbreaks, we’re asking Congress for $3.9 billion to help ensure ready access to vaccinations, testing, treatment, and operational support for the American people, as well as $600 million to do our part to combat the spread globally,” Young said.
That $4.5 billion monkeypox request includes $1.6 billion for vaccines and therapeutics, just under $1 billion for public health activities, and other funding for testing, treatment, research, and development, per the funding request summary.
The administration is also calling on Congress to pass $6.5 billion in additional funding to help with natural disaster response and recovery.
“We need additional funding that supports the people of Kentucky as they recover and rebuild from recent flooding, as well as communities that have remaining unmet recovery needs as they rebuild from major disasters, including those in California, Louisiana, and Texas. The request also includes funding to address wildfires, droughts, floods, extreme heat, and to increase electric grid resilience,” Young said.
Young said the Biden administration will “continue to work with members of both parties in Congress to meet these critical needs for the American people, and we look forward to reaching a bipartisan funding agreement that advances national priorities in the coming fiscal year.”
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CNN’s Clare Foran contributed to this report.