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Biden Administration Asks Congress for $10 Billion in Extra Funding For Ukraine Aid

© Andrew Harnik

Washington — The Biden administration is requesting at least $10 billion in extra funding for humanitarian aid and military operations in Ukraine, a significant increase in requested funding from just a few days ago.

The data were confirmed by two persons familiar with the request to CBS News. The increased funding is part of a larger request that includes a $22.5 billion request for COVID-19 pandemic-related spending as well as measures to prepare for future pandemics.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued late Wednesday, Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, made the formal request for more funding for “critical assistance” to Ukraine and the response to COVID-19.

“Given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, I anticipate that additional needs may arise over time,” Young warned lawmakers in the letter. She added that the current request is based on “the administration’s best information on resource requirements at this time” — in other words, Congress should expect the need to pay more to support the Ukrainian people. 

In terms of pandemic spending, Young stated that the Biden administration’s new national COVID-19 readiness strategy will almost certainly require more funding “to help America move forward safely and get us back to our more normal routines.”

$4.8 billion of the $10 billion in aid sought by the Biden administration for Ukraine would go to the Defense Department to enable U.S. troop deployments in surrounding countries in support of NATO efforts and to supply Ukraine with more military equipment.

The budget also includes $5 billion for the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to increase security and economic support to Ukraine and regional partners, with $2.75 billion going to humanitarian aid.

The additional funding needed for the pandemic and national security might be included in a massive annual budget plan currently being debated on Capitol Hill. The current short-term spending agreement expires on March 11, but it’s unclear whether negotiators will include this new request in the larger spending plan or separate legislation.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, told reporters Tuesday that Republicans working on a bigger budget bill have reached a “snag” over Ukraine aid. On Wednesday, three dozen Republican senators sent a letter to the White House asking why additional funding for the COVID-19 response is needed.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, though, said the annual spending bill is the “quickest and most efficient way to” approve the aid to Ukraine.

“Nothing would make Putin happier than having Democrats and Republicans divided,” he said Tuesday.

As per Cbsnews, Senate Republicans have requested information from the White House on how the money set aside by Congress for COVID-19 assistance has been spent. According to sources familiar with the latest request, more than 90% of the available funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan’s available funds have been committed, and nearly all of the money from the package for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID-19 response has been used.

Furthermore, more than 90% of the HHS response funds were spent on vaccines and medicines, vaccine distribution initiatives, research to improve surveillance and countermeasures, expanding the supply of personal protective equipment, and hospital infection control.

Without further funding, the Biden administration would be unable to procure treatments, vaccines, and testing, according to the sources, and pandemic response operations will finish in the spring.

Spending needs for Ukraine have ballooned significantly now that the Russian invasion is underway. Last Friday, the White House announced that it will require at least $6.4 billion in humanitarian, intelligence, and military aid to help Ukraine recover, but warned that the sum may vary.

Since 2021, the United States has given Ukraine more than $1.4 billion in aid.

During his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Biden promised that the US “will continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and to help ease their suffering.”

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