United States President Joe Biden makes remarks on Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House in Washington on August 26, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed a stopgap solution to government funding as lawmakers passed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and a transformative Democratic-backed $ 3.5 trillion budget adjustment package haggles.
With the end of fiscal year 2021 in late September, the White House encouraged congressional leaders to consider a short-term persistent resolution.
Without a sustained resolution, the federal government would shut down, triggering a wave of vacations for federal employees until Congress passes a funding bill.
The stopgap measure would involve billions in aid to recover from Hurricane Ida and relocate Afghans who have fled Kabul.
If such a loophole is not addressed, the public could not have reliable access to a number of federal programs like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or the Bureau of Reclamation, which is currently running a drought response.
“As part of our responsibility to carefully plan the end of the fiscal year, we are today providing technical assistance to Congress with a short-term resolution,” said a Biden government official. “The purpose is to avoid serious disruptions to certain public services that could arise under a CR if it just extended last year’s budget bills with no changes.”
Each federal agency develops its own decommissioning plan in coordination with the Office for Administration and Budget. Each plan describes what government activities will cease until funds are restored, which will require vacation and the cessation of many government activities.
Basic services, often related to public safety, the armed forces, and others, continue to operate and are reimbursed when Congress provides the necessary funds.
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Whether the debt ceiling should be raised or suspended is a separate question that the legislature is addressing at the same time. Should lawmakers fail to raise or suspend the cap, which is considered an unlikely outcome, the US government would default for the first time ever.
As part of the Emergency Resolutions Act, the White House also asked Congress to allocate around $ 14 billion to deal with the natural disasters leading up to Hurricane Ida. A civil servant said Ida will significantly increase the need for additional funds for disaster relief, by at least $ 10 billion.
“The government is committed to providing the resources necessary to help affected states and tribes recover from recent extreme weather events and natural disasters,” the official said. “These include disasters in the past eighteen months – such as Hurricanes Laura and Delta – that have unmet needs, as well as newer and immediate needs such as those resulting from ongoing forest fires and Hurricane Ida.”
Most recently, the Biden administration asked Congress for $ 6.4 billion to aid the relocation, security and humanitarian efforts of vulnerable Afghans recently evacuated from the war-weary country.
“The bulk of the funding will go to the Department of Defense and State Department to support processing sites overseas and in the United States, as well as state transportation for our allies and partners between processing sites,” said a Biden government official.
The application also includes support for ongoing security clearance and humanitarian assistance from the state and USAID, as well as targeted funding for HHS and the state to provide public health screenings and vaccinations for Afghans in the US, as well as full resettlement resources and a way to get around them to enable a successful new life to be built here, “added the official.
Following President Joe Biden’s decision to completely withdraw US forces from Afghanistan by August 31, which was later emulated by NATO, the Taliban made a number of shocking gains on the battlefield.
Although the Afghan military, long supported by US and NATO coalition forces, is vastly outnumbered, the Taliban captured the presidential palace in Kabul on August 15.
Over the course of 17 days to August 31, the United States rushed with coalition partners to transport more than 116,000 people from Afghanistan by cargo aircraft.
Meanwhile, governments around the world opened their borders to vulnerable Afghan nationals arriving on evacuation flights.
“Today’s funding request will support the US government’s overseas operations and plans for up to 65,000 vulnerable Afghans to arrive in the United States by the end of the month,” a Biden government official said.