Biden administration seeks $32.5 billion in Ukraine and COVID aid -reports By Reuters

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters upon his departure from the White House on Ash Wednesday, in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is seeking $32.5 billion in additional funding from Congress to aid Ukraine and to bolster the U.S. COVID response, U.S. media reports said on Thursday.

The White House is seeking $10 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid to assist Ukraine after Russia invaded last week, the Washington Post reported. Those funds would help train Ukraine’s military, protect its electrical grid, boost its cyberdefenses and enforce sanctions, it said, citing two people familiar with the matter.

That is $3.6 billion more that the White House sought on Feb. 25, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Another $22.5 billion would go toward shoring up the nation’s pandemic response as part of the shift toward managing COVID-19 long-term and preparing for any potential new variants and spikes in cases, the Post said, also citing a letter from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget sent to U.S. lawmakers it had obtained.

The White House will officially ask Congress for the additional funding later on Thursday, it added. The Punchbowl News media outlet also reported on the planned funding request.

Representatives for the White House did not respond to a request for comment on the reports.

OMB Acting Director Shalanda Young cited “an immediate need” for the aid to assist Ukraine and other Central European allies, and asked that the total $32.5 billion request be included in Congress’ larger spending bill to fund the U.S. government expected to come by March 11, the letter posted online by Punchbowl showed.

Lawmakers had passed a so-called stopgap spending bill to fund federal agencies through next Friday and must pass another measure by then to avert to government shutdown.

Biden’s fellow Democrats control both chamber of Congress.

While there has been large bipartisan support for the Ukrainian aid, Republicans have balked at additional funds to fight the novel coronavirus, with 36 conservative U.S. senators on Wednesday demanding a full accounting of the money authorized so far before considering any more federal funds.

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by : Reuters

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