Home Politics White House Calls on Congress to Support Critical Domestic Needs

White House Calls on Congress to Support Critical Domestic Needs

by Quincy Thomas
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The Biden-Harris Administration is delivering on its promises – lowering costs for families, protecting American lives from the devastating impacts of challenges like the climate crisis and the opioid epidemic, and ensuring America can compete to win in the global marketplace. At the same time, additional resources are needed to meet the needs of the American people, support our communities, and protect our nation and its interests.

The Administration continues to call on Congress to reach a comprehensive, bipartisan agreement to fund the Government, which is critical for a number of bipartisan priorities – including child care, nutrition assistance, public health, research and development, and national security.

The Administration also recently communicated with Congress about critical funding needs for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Student Aid Administration, and the Social Security Administration to prevent harmful impacts on women and children, students, seniors and individuals with disabilities in the coming year, and we expect Congress to address these needs as well as today’s supplemental funding request.

In the meantime, in order to advance critical domestic priorities and address urgent needs, the Biden-Harris Administration is calling on Congress to provide additional domestic resources that will:

Support Communities Facing Extreme Weather and Climate Disasters

As the President has said repeatedly, the Administration will stand with communities as they recover from extreme weather and climate disasters for as long as it takes. The Administration’s request is based on current estimates of needs in communities affected by recent disasters, and the Administration will work with Congress to continue to assess these needs to fully support recovery and rebuilding. To meet our commitment to communities facing flooding, extreme heat, catastrophic wildfires, drought, and other severe weather events over the past year, the Administration is requesting:

  • Funding for the Disaster Relief Fund to enable FEMA to continue supporting critical response efforts and recovery projects in communities across the country.
  • Support for specific disaster-recovery needs, including wildfires on Maui, the Guam typhoon, hurricanes in Florida and the southeastern United States, floods in California and Vermont, tornadoes in Mississippi, and other natural disasters across the country.
  • Resources for rural residents, farmers, highway repairs, housing, businesses, K-12 schools, and institutions of higher education adversely affected by disasters nationwide.
  • Funding to implement permanent, comprehensive pay reform for wildland firefighters through the end of the fiscal year. Without congressional action, our nation’s heroic Federal wildland firefighters will face a pay cliff starting as soon as November, with salaries being cut by $20,000 or, in some cases, as much as 50% of base pay.
  • Funding to minimize the economic and employment impacts of disasters, including support for workers to meet cleanup and recovery needs following disasters, and for employment and training services to help Americans who have been dislocated or otherwise put out of work due to disaster-related impacts.
  • Additional funding to states, territories, and Tribes through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help cover home heating costs, settle unpaid utility bills, and make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower families’ heating and cooling bills. Last year alone LIHEAP served more than six million households. This funding is critical to preventing drastic service and benefit cuts compared to last year.

Prevent Families from Losing Child Care

The American Rescue Plan provided the largest one-time investment the country has ever made in child care, bringing vital relief to the childcare sector, which was already on the brink of crisis prior to the pandemic. These resources enabled all 50 states and D.C. to make payments to over 220,000 childcare providers, serving as many as 10 million children, that were at risk of closing—supporting the creation of more childcare slots across the country, reducing family childcare costs, increasing compensation to recruit and retain staff, and helping parents, especially mothers, return to work or enter the workforce.

Without congressional action, the expiration of childcare stabilization funding at the end of September threatens to undo recent gains and destabilize the childcare sector. There are already reports of providers needing to raise parent fees to help cover operating costs that were subsidized by child care stabilization funding or reduce staff wages, exacerbating challenges in hiring and retaining qualified staff. Some providers may be forced to close without additional resources. If this trajectory continues, hardworking families will pay the price—parents will be left with fewer childcare options and higher costs—preventing parents from working and holding back our entire economy. Addressing this challenge requires congressional action and dedicated resources in addition to the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides childcare subsidies to low-income families. As Congress works to reach an agreement on full-year CCDBG appropriations, the Administration is also requesting an additional year of childcare stabilization funding to help keep childcare providers afloat, mitigating the likelihood that providers will close or raise costs for families.

Continue to Expand Access to High-Speed Internet Across America

In the 21st century, affordable, reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for Americans to do their jobs, participate equally in school learning, access health care, and stay connected. But too often, high costs create a barrier, and tens of millions of families, students, and seniors are left without access to high-speed internet, or have to sacrifice other necessities to pay their internet bill, exacerbating underlying inequities. The Affordable Connectivity Program, enacted under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is already helping over 21 million households save over $500 million per month on their monthly internet bills. The program is also critical for the Administration’s high-speed internet deployment programs for rural, remote, and Tribal communities. Without this funding, tens of millions of people would lose this benefit and would no longer be able to afford high-speed internet service without sacrificing other necessities. The Administration is requesting additional funds to strengthen the program by extending free and discounted high-speed internet for eligible households through December 2024.

Protect American Security and Bolster Energy Independence

Alongside the Administration’s request for funding to address the challenges we face abroad, the Biden-Harris Administration is calling on Congress to provide supplemental funding to strengthen our security at home, including by protecting communities at high risk of attack, safeguarding our communications infrastructure, and strengthening our energy independence. The requested funding will:

  • Increase grants under FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program to nonprofit organizations, including synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship, that are at high risk of attack. As the President has said, there is no place in America for hate against anyone. Grant funds would pay for strengthening facility security and increase coordination between nonprofit organizations and state and local governments.
  • Fully reimburse eligible communications providers for the ongoing removal of insecure equipment and software from communications infrastructure that may pose a national security threat to the United States.
  • Mitigate domestic vulnerabilities and enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global market for isotopes used in public health, energy, and national security sectors.
  • Improve long-term, domestic enrichment capabilities for low-enriched uranium and high-assay low-enriched uranium. This is a national security priority as dependence on Russian sources of uranium creates a risk to the U.S. economy and the civil nuclear industry that has been further strained by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Without action, Russia will continue its hold on the global uranium market to the detriment of U.S. allies and partners. To be successful, this initiative would also require a long-term ban on enriched uranium product imports from the Russian Federation into the United States.
  • Make capital improvements to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to improve the operational readiness and crude transportation capabilities, better positioning the SPR to combat global oil supply disruptions such as those caused by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and other global events.

Save Lives by Countering the Fentanyl Crisis

Thanks to historic funding and bipartisan efforts, the rate of overdose deaths is slowing after a period of exponential increase, access to treatment is expanding, and historic amounts of fentanyl are being seized at our borders. But our work to beat the overdose epidemic is far from over and additional resources are needed to continue the Administration’s aggressive action to save lives. As part of the Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy supported by the National Security Supplemental package released last week to crack down on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl, the Administration’s Domestic Supplemental request includes funding for grants to States, Territories, and Tribes through the Department of Health and Human Services’ State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program. This critical program provides funding for opioid use disorder treatment, evidence-based harm reduction services, overdose prevention measures like naloxone, and recovery support services in all States and territories. Since 2018, the SOR grant program has provided treatment services to over 1.2 million people, and states have purchased nearly 9 million overdose reversal medication kits using SOR grant funds and helped reverse approximately 500,000 overdoses.

Provide Food Aid to Support Emergency Needs Abroad and Farmers at Home

Humanitarian needs worldwide remain at unprecedented levels due to more frequent and severe natural disasters and worsening food security. Putin’s war on Ukraine is having a devastating impact on global food availability and costs. Alongside the $10 billion in humanitarian aid in the National Security Supplemental request, the Administration is also requesting funding that will:

  • Help respond to emergency food needs around the world. Funds for the Food for Peace program help combat malnutrition, improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups, and mitigate the impact of disasters that are occurring with greater frequency. The Food for Peace Program uses food commodities grown in the United States by U.S. farmers to feed vulnerable populations in the poorest corners of the world.
  • Provide resources for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, which provides for the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities, as well as financial and technical assistance, to support school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income, food-deficit countries around the globe.

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