Biden just asked Congress for $24 billion in urgent disaster aid money, urging lawmakers to avert a government shutdown

  • The White House asked Congress on Tuesday for $24 billion in disaster relief spending.
  • The request did not include extra funds to renew unemployment aid, which expired on Labor Day.
  • This comes as a possible government shutdown is looming at the end of September.

The Biden administration asked Congress on Tuesday for at least $24 billion in disaster relief and urged swift passage of a short-term funding bill as a government shutdown looms at the end of September.

White House Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Shalanda Young requested “urgent” spending in a blog post to respond to natural disasters and the relocation of Afghans who partnered with the US during the war in Afghanistan. Specifically, the administration is asking Congress for $14 billion for natural disasters that occurred before Hurricane Ida, $6.4 billion for the Afghan relocation, and it anticipates another $10 million will be approved for Hurricane Ida.

Young asked for a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that would advance bipartisan agreement “on smart, full-year appropriations bills that reinvest in core priorities, meet the needs of American families, businesses and communities, and lay a strong foundation for the future.”

“A short-term CR is necessary not only to provide Congress additional time to pass full-year appropriations bills that make bold, forward-looking investments in our future, but also to address the specific, urgent needs facing our country right now,” Young wrote.

Young noted that the majority of the $6.4 billion in requested funding would go toward the Defense and State Departments to support sites overseas, along with humanitarian assistance through the State Dept. and US Agency for International Development to Afghans at risk in the region. 

The White House did not ask Congress to include extra funds to renew federal unemployment aid. A pair of programs that covered gig workers and the long-term unemployed expired on Monday, yanking all government assistance from at least 7.5 million Americans.

It comes as Congress wrestles with a barrage of critical deadlines this month. Funding of federal operations is set to expire on Sept. 30, meaning lawmakers must pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government open for several more weeks or months.

On top of keeping the government funded, lawmakers must also renew the US’s ability to continue paying its bills by either raising or suspending the debt ceiling. Republicans in both chambers are insisting they won’t strike a deal with Democrats and instead force them to do it alone.

Democrats are balking and say a deal on the debt ceiling must be bipartisan, but they haven’t ruled out acting unilaterally.  “We have several options,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden spent Tuesday touring damage from Hurricane Ida in New Jersey. Insider previously reported that many are still reeling from the devastation of the hurricane and was predicted to have damaged or destroyed nearly 1 million homes along the Gulf Coast. 

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