The Perfect Enemy | White House seeks $48B for Ukraine, Covid-19 needs
December 9, 2022
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The White House is urging congressional leaders to provide nearly $48 billion in emergency cash this fall for Ukraine and to battle Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

The Biden administration sent a letter to Congress on Tuesday outlining nearly a $38 billion request to help Ukraine continue fending off Russian attacks. The administration is also asking for $10 billion in emergency health funding, with more than $9 billion going toward Covid vaccine access, next-generation Covid vaccines, long Covid research and more. About $750 billion would be spent on efforts to control the spread of monkeypox, hepatitis C and HIV.

Congress has so far provided about $66 billion for Ukraine and other war-related needs. The administration argues that about three-quarters of that funding has either been spent or is committed to specific purposes.

An administration official said the White House plans to request additional disaster relief in the coming weeks to help with hurricane and wildfire recovery, but didn’t provide any tentative figure.

The administration’s request for emergency money comes as appropriators aim to clinch a year-end government funding deal that would stave off a partial government shutdown on Dec. 16 and increase agency budgets for the current fiscal year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already promised to provide more money for Ukraine in a government funding package, while some conservatives are arguing that the U.S. should cut off financial assistance and assess how funding for the country has been spent to date.

Republicans also aren’t likely to support the administration’s call for more than $9 billion in Covid-19 funding after rejecting a $22 billion Covid funding request from the White House earlier this year.

“We’re going to be very clear with Congress, as we have been, about what happens if they don’t give us this funding,” an administration official said.

President Joe Biden emboldened that GOP resistance to extra Covid funding when he declared the pandemic “over” in September. But the administration has since warned that without additional funding from lawmakers, the government won’t be able to ensure vaccine access, among other issues.

“We’ve been very careful to focus this request on the needs we have immediately,” the official said, acknowledging that “some conditions have changed both on the ground and with Congress as we’ve made our case for these resources.”

“We have repeatedly warned Congress that in the absence of them stepping up to do their part, we’re going to have to make difficult trade-offs,” the official said. “Given that, we’ve revised our request to meet this moment.”