White House wants $56 billion for disaster relief, child care and high-speed Internet

Washington: The White House is asking lawmakers for nearly $56 billion in emergency spending to help the government respond to natural disasters, shore up funding for child care centers and keep high-speed internet running for low-income families — outlining President Joe Biden’s domestic priorities as Congress simultaneously weighs sending billions for conflicts abroad.

The largest portion of the supplemental funding request, sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, includes more than $23 billion for disaster relief, as the Biden administration continues to aid communities across the U.S. devastated by wildfires, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The package also includes $16 billion to help scores of child care centers operate for another year, as well as $6 billion to extend free and discounted internet through December 2024, according to the White House.

Other tasks included in the $56 billion request are international food aid, energy assistance for low-income households and pay for federal wildland fighters. Wednesday’s package is on top of the separate, nearly $106 billion request the Biden administration made last week for aid to Ukraine and Israel, as well as other national security priorities.

The White House says the request for additional disaster relief – parsed out among the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies that cover housing, transportation and agriculture needs – is based on estimates from communities that have been hit by disasters this year, such as the August wildfires in Hawaii, hurricanes in Florida and flooding in California and Vermont, among other extreme weather events.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly traveled to disaster-ravaged zones this year to comfort victims and to pledge that the federal government would not only help with recovery efforts but in rebuilding communities.

The biggest portion of the $23.5 billion in Biden’s disaster request is $9 billion to beef up FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which the agency taps for immediate response and recovery efforts once a natural disaster hits. That fund currently has $33.7 billion available, according to FEMA.

Image courtesy of WLOX

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