By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration is asking Congress for $9.25 billion to fight COVID-19 and an additional $37.7 billion to support Ukraine in its war with Russia as part of a supplemental funding request, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The administration is also requesting $750 million to fight other infectious diseases and will be seeking additional money for natural disaster relief, the officials said.
"The Congress has an opportunity and obligation to address three additional and critical funding needs that should earn bipartisan support: protecting the American people from COVID-19 and saving lives globally; supporting the people of Ukraine; and helping communities across the Nation recover from devastating natural disasters," White House budget director Shalanda Young said in letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
White House officials have said the administration would focus on funding the government and the U.S. COVID response as well as getting judges confirmed during the so-called "lame duck" period through the end of this year.
Biden officials have been seeking more money from Congress to fight COVID for some time without success.
The new funds would be used to prepare for a possible winter surge in cases, "smooth the path to commercialization for vaccines and therapeutics," speed up research and treatment for long COVID, and develop new vaccines and treatments, the White House said. Of the $9.25 billion, $1 billion would go toward helping to fight the virus worldwide.
The funding for Ukraine for the duration of the fiscal year would go to defense equipment, humanitarian assistance, and nuclear security support, the White House said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis)