Biden Delays COVID Funding Bill to Fast-Track Ukraine ‘Aid’
21:08 GMT 10.05.2022 (Updated: 21:17 GMT 10.05.2022)
Since the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, the United States government has been steadfast in providing nearly unlimited funding to Ukraine. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the lives of Americans, US President Joe Biden is showing what he prioritizes.
In a statement posted to the White House website on Monday, US President Joe Biden announced that he is decoupling the COVID-19 relief package in order to rush military aid to Ukraine.
“Previously, I had recommended that Congress take overdue action on much needed funding for COVID treatments, vaccines and tests, as part of the Ukraine Supplemental bill. However, I have been informed by congressional leaders in both parties that such an addition would slow down action on the urgently needed Ukrainian aid – a view expressed strongly by several Congressional Republicans,” the statement reads.
“We cannot afford delay in this vital war effort. Hence, I am prepared to accept that these two measures move separately, so that the Ukrainian aid bill can get to my desk right away.”
While Biden says that helping Americans “combat COVID” is of equal importance, the decoupling of the two efforts shows which is a priority for the White House.
Since Russia’s special operation in Ukraine began, the United States has been sending billions, seemingly without restraint. In March, Congress authorized $13.6 billion, a fund Biden says will be exhausted in the next ten days. It has been estimated that the United States is spending $100 million a day in Ukraine.
The new Ukraine funding bill will far exceed the last one: the House of Representatives is expected to approve a $39.8 billion bill to provide additional aid. By contrast, the last COVID relief bill included $10 billion in funding that came from previous COVID-19 relief fund programs that went unspent.
In the statement, President Biden says the COVID relief funds are needed to provide testing, vaccines, including next-generation vaccines, and new COVID treatments, presumably antiviral pills.
The conclusion of the statement lays out the president’s priorities in plain sight: “I call on Congress to pass the Ukrainian Supplemental funding bill immediately, and get it to my desk in the next few days. And then, I urge Congress to move promptly on the COVID funding bill.” The statement concludes, “This virus knows no borders; we must continue to save lives here at home and around the world."