Dear Madam Speaker:
Over the coming weeks, the Administration looks forward to continued engagement with members of both parties to reach a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement to fund the Government for the rest of the fiscal year (FY) and invest in critical national priorities before the December 16th funding deadline.
As part of that process, the Congress has an opportunity and obligation to address three additional and critical funding needs that should earn bipartisan support: protecting the American people from COVID-19 and saving lives globally; supporting the people of Ukraine; and helping communities across the Nation recover from devastating natural disasters.
Today, I am writing to provide you with the President’s request for FY 2023 emergency supplemental funding for critical assistance to Ukraine and critical response activities to address COVID-19. We are working quickly to refine the estimates of funding needs to address recent natural disasters, and we will share additional details on those anticipated needs as soon as possible. I urge the Congress to promptly act on all three of these priorities on behalf of the American people.
First, there remains an urgent need for additional COVID-19 funding to help us stay prepared in the face of an unpredictable virus. While COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it was when the President took office, we face the emergence of new subvariants in the United States and around the world that have the potential to cause a surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, particularly as we head into the winter months—a time when viruses like COVID-19 spread more quickly. We know how to manage this moment, but as the Administration has long made clear—including in previous emergency funding requests we sent to the Congress on March 2, 2022, April 28, 2022, and September 2, 2022—we need additional resources to ensure that we have the necessary services and supplies to keep the American people safe. That is why we are requesting funding to help prepare for a possible winter surge, smooth the path to commercialization for vaccines and therapeutics, accelerate research and treatment for long COVID, and develop next-generation vaccines and treatments. Because our safety depends on getting the virus under control everywhere, we are also requesting funding to combat the virus globally by supporting vaccine uptake and expanding access to treatments and testing. Failure to provide more funding would lead to needless infections and deaths across the Nation and around the world.
Second, we must continue to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and stand resolute in the face of Russia’s brutal war. Since the beginning of Putin’s war, the United States has rallied the world to support Ukraine. Together, with strong, bipartisan support in the Congress, we have provided significant assistance that has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield—and we cannot let that support run dry. To date, roughly three-quarters of the funds previously provided by the Congress have been disbursed or committed, with even more expected by the end of the year. That is why we are urging the Congress to provide additional appropriations to ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons, and support it needs to defend itself, and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid. The request also addresses the critical global food and energy shortages caused by Russia’s invasion.
Third, we need to help our communities recover and rebuild from extreme weather events and natural disasters. The President has visited many of these communities in recent months, including parts of Florida and Puerto Rico that have been devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Fiona. At moments like this, Americans come together not as Republicans or Democrats, but as one Nation—and that means we must fund critical disaster response and rebuilding efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico, and other communities across America that have faced severe flooding, wildfires, drought, and extreme heat over the past year. As the President often says, we must be there for these communities every step of the way—for as long as it takes.
Staying ahead of COVID-19. Supporting Ukraine’s fight to defend its sovereignty. Helping Americans who have borne the brunt of natural disasters. The American people rightly expect their leaders to come together and deliver on these priorities, and I urge the Congress to address them as part of a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement in the weeks ahead.
Shalanda D. Young