Aid for Ukraine, But Not Restaurants During Busy Week
May 23, 2022
Congress completed an active week of negotiations on China competitiveness, aid for Ukraine, baby formula, and responding to the Buffalo shooting. Additional pandemic aid for restaurants failed and demonstrated that more funds for COVID tests, therapeutics, and vaccines may not become available.
U.S. Innovation and Competition Act to Strengthen Supply Chains
Congressional leaders hope to complete House and Senate conference committee negotiations by June 21 on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260). The legislation would strengthen supply chains, improve America’s competitiveness with China, and provide $52 billion in funding to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor manufacturing industry. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes to have the bill done by July 4 to celebrate “our new independence” from foreign-made microchips.
On Thursday, the Senate approved $40 billion in aid to Ukraine by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 86-11. The Associated Press reports that the funds include:
- $24 billion for arms, equipment, financing weapons purchases, and paying for American troops deployed in nearby countries,
- $9 billion in direct aid to Ukraine’s government, and
- $5 billion for food to countries reliant on Ukraine’s food production.
Funds also help Ukrainian refugees in the U.S., seize Russian oligarchs’ assets, reopen the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and prosecute Russian war crimes.
Now $54 billion has been pledged to Ukraine assistance, including $13.6 billion approved earlier this year. The amount is more than what the U.S. spends annually on all military and economic foreign assistance. On Wednesday, the U.S. embassy in Kyiv was reopened and the Senate confirmed Bridget Brink to serve as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, which has not had a Senate-confirmed ambassador in three years.
Congress also approved $28 million in emergency funds to FDA to address the nationwide baby formula shortage and passed legislation to remove restrictions on which formulas can be purchased under the WIC program during a public health emergency or product recall.
Buffalo Shooting Response
Democrats responded to the racism that allegedly motivated the Buffalo shooter as the House passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act by a vote of 222-203, including just one Republican, retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). The legislation would create offices within DHS, DOJ, and the FBI focused on domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Gun control advocates recognize that Congress is unable to do more to prevent gun violence, but Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) thinks Democrats should make gun safety a key part of their 2022 midterm message.
A $48 billion bipartisan bill stalled after a 52-43 vote fell short of 60 votes required to provide additional funds for restaurants, small business, gyms, and music venues still impacted by the pandemic. The legislation would have replenished the pandemic-era Restaurant Relief Fund and provide $2 billion to gyms, $500 million to minor league sports teams, $2 billion for live performing arts venues. The lack of further assistance left restaurant lobbyists seething. SBA had announced that more than 278,000 applications were submitted to the program, but the agency was only able to fund approximately 101,000 of them.
No Path for COVID Aid
Punchbowl News reports that Democrats on both sides of the Capitol are now skeptical that Congress will pass another round of COVID relief to replenish federal stockpiles of tests, therapeutics, and vaccines. Not enough Republicans support either the $10 billion Senate Republicans previously agreed to or the $22.5 billion Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought to prepare for future needs.
Managing Director, Government Relations
Congressional leaders hope to complete House and Senate conference committee negotiations by June 21 on the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S.1260).
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