March 11, 2021

Congress Passes Sweeping Emergency COVID-19 Relief Package with $10.8 billion for Global Response

As the world marks one year since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, this week Congress passed a sweeping $1.9 trillion emergency relief package to address the pandemic’s ongoing impact on America’s health, security, and economic recovery. Importantly, the package includes $10.8 billion in International Affairs Budget resources for the global response.

The final package – which, as previously mentioned, was passed using budget reconciliation – was the culmination of weeks of intense negotiations between the Administration and Congressional Democrats.

Before approving the measure by a 50-49 party-line vote last weekend, the Senate considered dozens of amendments during an all-night “vote-a-rama.” Several amendments were filed that would have cut critical resources for America’s international response to the pandemic, but none received a vote. The bill was signed into law by President Biden following final passage in the House earlier this week.

The USGLC released a statement underscoring the importance of a fully resourced global response to keep Americans safe by “stopping the virus in its tracks, mitigating devastating humanitarian crises, and helping the economy rebound.”

International Affairs Funding
In addition to the domestic spending included in the emergency COVID-19 relief package, Congress included $10.8 billion for international affairs programs to ensure America leads the fight against this pandemic at home and abroad – because as new variants continue to spread, it’s clear that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

Specifically, the $10.8 billion would go to address the following critical needs:

  • Global Health ($4.7 billion): Including $3.5 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to provide urgently needed treatments, equipment, personnel, and testing to save lives and contain the spread of COVID-19 while also protecting hard-fought gains against ongoing epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
  • International Disaster Relief ($3.1 billion): To support USAID’s disaster response capabilities in countries impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, including critical support for “rehabilitation, and reconstruction, for health activities, and to meet emergency food security needs.”
  • Economic Assistance ($930 million): To address economic, security, and stabilization needs in COVID-19 affected countries.
  • Food for Peace ($800 million): To tackle the rising tides of global hunger and food insecurity, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Multilateral Assistance ($580 million): To support efforts by international partners – including the World Health Organization and UNICEF – to address the devastating humanitarian crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Humanitarian Assistance ($500 million): To help prepare for and respond to the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable refugee populations around the world.
  • State Department and USAID Operations ($245 million): To ensure America’s diplomatic and development agencies have the resources to support frontline personnel, maintain facilities, and provide for emergency preparedness needs related to COVID-19.

Funding for the global response to COVID-19 – which represents just 0.34% of all emergency COVID-19 relief funding approved by Congress to date – is a direct investment in America’s own health, security, and economic recovery. That is why bipartisan Members of Congress have been speaking out about the importance of America’s global leadership role in combating COVID-19 and in support of fully resourcing the State Department, USAID, and our other development agencies on the frontlines fighting this pandemic.

What’s Next
With the emergency COVID-19 relief package complete, Congress and the Administration can turn their full attention to the FY22 budget and appropriations process – the Biden Administration’s first budget request is expected to be released in the coming weeks. Since his inauguration, President Biden has embraced a commitment to America’s role in the world and reinvesting in our nation’s civilian development and diplomacy tools. The Administration’s FY22 International Affairs Budget Request will be the first opportunity for the new President to lay out his priorities when it comes to America’s global leadership and will be closely analyzed by Congress.

Now that the 117th Congress is in full swing, Congress and the Administration will have the opportunity to move forward bipartisan policies that strengthen America’s development and diplomacy programs – building on the strong legacy of previous Congresses – including areas where clear consensus exists such as addressing global economic competition and mitigating the impacts of climate change, as highlighted in the USGLC’s new Report On Reports.