The Biden administration is asking Congress for $32.5 billion to assist Ukraine during Russia's attack, and to help the U.S. fight COVID-19, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
A total of $10 billion would go to help Ukraine deal with its growing humanitarian crisis created by Russia's unprovoked attack and to bolster its defenses and protect its electrical grid, sources told the Post.
The administration also is seeking about $22.5 billion to restore key public health programs to help guard against future variants of the coronavirus with testing, therapeutics and vaccines, the Post said.
Senate Republicans have indicated they might oppose new COVID spending until the administration accounts for previous funding. They say the Biden administration has not fully accounted for the $1.9 trillion package adopted last year.
The Post reported that top White House officials have said there's enough funding to combat the diminishing omicron surge. However, the officials insist more money is needed because the earlier funding has been spent or committed to specific purposes.
Another issue being worked out with the overall funding bill is the size and scope of the omnibus spending, or emergency aid.
On Feb. 18, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill to extend government funding for three weeks to give Congress more time to reach an overdue deal financing federal agencies through the rest of the fiscal year.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress said last week they could approve hundreds of millions of dollars in additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said lawmakers want to provide Ukraine with $600 million for "lethal defense weapons" to battle Russia's unfolding attack.
On Tuesday, though, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced a "snag" in talks about Ukraine assistance. He said Democrats were trying to take the money from sums already targeted for the Pentagon.
The Post said the administration was trying to ease those concerns by telling Congress the Ukraine money would be new emergency aid, not dollars targeted for the Defense Department.
With both Ukraine and COVID, senior administration officials told the Post that each fluid crisis could force them to seek additional funds later.
"Given the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, I anticipate that additional needs may arise over time," Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a letter to lawmakers obtained by the Post. She added she "anticipate[s] that additional funding will be needed to support the covid-19 response," too.
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