Biden boosts spending request to help pay for disasters

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – The Biden administration on Friday added $4 billion to a supplemental funding request to Congress to help pay for relief efforts following a string of disasters that have ravaged large swathes of the U.S. in recent weeks.

U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress in early August to approve about $40 billion in additional spending, including $24 billion for Ukraine and other international needs and $12 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) now needs $16 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), an OMB spokesperson said, citing disasters in Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida.

“The President has been clear that were going to stand with communities across the nation as they recover from disasters for as long as it takes, and the administration is committed to working with Congress to ensure funding for the DRF is sufficient for recovery needs,” the spokesperson said.

The White House on Thursday said it was working with Congress to hammer out a short-term funding measure to avoid an Oct. 1 partial federal government shutdown while longer-term spending talks continue.

Current funding for most government programs expires on Sept. 30. If no action is taken before the next fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, a range of government functions would shut down.

The need for a stop-gap spending bill – one that might extend through late November or early December – has been a foregone conclusion for months, and in recent years Congress has struggled to pass over 12 funding bills to keep most federal programs operating.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia; Editing by Don Durfee and Christopher Cushing)