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White House Seeks Funds for Afghanistan Evacuation, Hurricanes

Washington Report

President Joe Biden has asked Congress to include billions of extra dollars in “anomaly” spending in an upcoming continuing resolution that would extend federal funding into the next fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown Oct. 1.

The funding requests include $24 billion to address hurricane damage and $6.4 billion to pay for the evacuations of Afghan allies and partners and allow them to settle in the U.S. Other respects would implement COVID testing on the southern border and bolster the capacity of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The extra money would be needed to avoid issues that could occur if lawmakers were to simply extend current funding levels into fiscal 2022. Democrats and Republicans have yet to agree on a stopgap spending bill, but one would be required to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September.

According to Politico, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has told Democratic lawmakers he wants to pass a stopgap during the week of Sept. 20.

Congress returned from a nearly month-long recess this week with a lot on its plate, including budgets and the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Congress must pass a budget or a continuing resolution by the end of the month to avoid a lapse in federal funding.

Army leaders have said the cost of the withdrawal from Afghanistan could negatively impact readiness if they aren’t reimbursed.

The White House has said the requested $6.4 billion would include funding for several aspects of the withdrawal, including $2.4 billion for the Defense Department’s role. Other funding would go to the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The White House is also seeking to redirect money originally meant to train and equip the Afghanistan military and boost the amount of money the Pentagon can shift between its own accounts.

Other language the Biden administration is seeking in a continuing resolution includes an exemption for military construction projects that were first appropriated in fiscal 2017.

Typically, funds for those projects are available for four years, but an exemption, if approved, would give the Defense Department another year to fund the projects, which were delayed by the Trump administration to finance the border wall.