The Biden administration unveiled on Wednesday a $56 billion domestic spending request that would funnel billions of dollars into disaster response, child care, national security, aid for lower-income Americans and other programs.
The supplemental funding request comes a week after the White House asked Congress for $105 billion for a separate national security package that includes military and humanitarian assistance for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. Both proposals face steep hurdles in the House, where Republicans have been focused on cutting back spending and only just elected a speaker after three weeks of legislative paralysis.
Lawmakers are expected to resume discussions on funding federal agencies for fiscal year 2024 now that Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson is the new speaker. The federal government is set to shut down after November 17 if Congress doesn’t act.
Notably, the domestic spending request does not include additional funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, the Student Aid Administration and the Social Security Administration. The Biden administration said it has communicated with Congress about addressing these needs.
Here’s what’s in the package, according to the White House:
$23.5 billion for disaster response
The package would provide $9 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund so the Federal Emergency Management Agency can address ongoing disaster response and recovery efforts. It would also pump $2.8 billion into addressing housing and infrastructure needs caused by major disasters and give the same amount to farmers and ranchers for crop losses from natural disasters.
It would provide just over $1 billion to repair schools, federal highways and roads affected by disasters, as well as $127 million for Small Business Administration disaster loans.
And it includes funding for disaster recovery needs for the wildfires on Maui, the hurricanes in Florida, the Guam typhoon and the floods in California and Vermont, among other disasters.
$16 billion for child care
The proposal would funnel $16 billion into child care stabilization grants to extend the pandemic support program for another year to help keep providers open.
Congressional Democrats created a $24 billion child care stabilization program as part of the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, but the funding expired on September 30. More than 70,000 child care programs are projected to close and about 3.2 million children could lose their spots due to the loss of the federal assistance, according to an analysis by The Century Foundation.
$6 billion for affordable connectivity
The White House wants to extend free and discounted high-speed internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program for tens of millions of low-income households through December 2024.
$6 billion for national security and energy independence
The measure would provide $3.1 billion to reimburse communications providers for the ongoing removal of insecure equipment and software from the US communications infrastructure.
It would funnel $2.2 billion into improving long-term domestic enrichment capabilities for certain types of uranium. And it would provide $300 million for capital improvements for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, as well as $278 million to mitigate vulnerabilities and enhance US competitiveness in the global market for isotopes.
Also, it would provide $200 million for grants to nonprofit organizations at high risk of attack, including synagogues and mosques, to strengthen the security of their facilities.
$1.6 billion for energy assistance
The White House wants to beef up the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, to help more Americans pay for home heating amid high energy costs.
Both the House and Senate have proposed allocating about $4 billion for the safety net program for this fiscal year. Lawmakers had provided $6 billion for the prior fiscal year and about $8.4 billion in fiscal year 2022 as energy prices skyrocketed.
$1.55 billion to combat fentanyl crisis
The package contains more money for state opioid response grants to provide treatment, harm reduction and recovery support services.
$1.05 billion for international food assistance
The White House is asking for $1 billion for Food for Peace grants that respond to global emergency needs using food grown by US farmers, as well as $5 million for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program to support school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects globally.
$220 million for wildland firefighter pay
The package would prevent cuts to federal wildland firefighter salaries.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Congress approved in 2021, temporarily raised pay for more than 11,300 federal wildland firefighters to at least $15 an hour, up from just $13. Firefighters then saw annual pay raises of $20,000 or 50% of a firefighter’s base pay, whichever was smaller. In the wake of disastrous fires, that money is about to dry up.
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