TACOMA, Washington — President Joe Biden has introduced a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $11 billion dedicated to foreign aid. In the bill, Biden called for 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of his presidency in order to address the job crisis the country faces as well as ensure the safe reopening of schools. Here is what can be expected from the Biden administration in response to foreign aid in the upcoming months.
Restoration of US Global Leadership
The United States is expected to take a more hands-on approach globally, emphasizing that the pandemic can have potentially disastrous consequences on the global economy, food security and healthcare if the virus continues to affect countries worldwide. However, while the $11 billion of foreign aid would bring the amount of U.S. funding for the global COVID-19 response to 0.4% of all approved COVID-19 emergency funding, it is still under the $20 billion policymakers advocated for.
Build Better Preparedness
By investing $11 billion, President Biden plans to focus on international health and humanitarian response in an attempt to alleviate the pandemic’s impact on global health, food security and gender-based violence. By investing in foreign aid, the United States will be supporting efforts to develop new vaccines and technologies to help fight the pandemic and new COVID-19 variants. The COVID-19 Relief Bill also mentions a Global Health Emergency Board will be created in order for the U.S. to coordinate crisis response for vulnerable populations. This includes helping offset costs of vaccines in low-to-middle income countries and setting high standards for communication and honesty.
Supporting Global Supply Chains
With the passing of the bill, the United States will support global supply chains in its pursuit of successful vaccine distribution. This process starts with restoring USAID’s pandemic forecasting program and the United States’ role in global health leadership.
As a result of the pandemic, global supply chains are vulnerable, stopping global manufacturing, shipping and creating shortages and delays. In fact, the automobile industry alone is estimated to face a $5.7 billion impact in global economic trade due to the pandemic. However, because the U.S. imports many products for essential industries, such as pharmaceuticals, the global supply chains are imperative to prioritize when responding to COVID-19.
Addressing Challenges Toward Marginalized Youth
COVID-19 has disrupted education for more than 70% of the world’s youth. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the youth of the world being at a disadvantage, there is an overall decline in productivity and potential. The ILO also noted a significant digital disconnect between health and education, which could cause many of the world’s youth to feel as though their education is being undermined due to the pandemic. The COVID-19 relief bill calls for large-scale policy responses to protect the younger population from having their job prospects hurt due to the pandemic. Additionally, the bill looks to re-integrate those who have lost their jobs into the labor market, allowing for the youth to access unemployment benefits.
Under the new COVID-19 relief bill, foreign aid will be allocated toward ensuring the world’s youth is being taken care of and heard. For instance, amid the pandemic, one in four young people had done some form of volunteer work to help their communities amid these unprecedented times. By taking an open approach and listening to youth’s voices, the bill provides the youth the chance to participate in the delivery of policies and programs.
Emergency Support to the World Bank’s IDA
The International Development Association (IDA) is part of the World Bank that is in charge of aiding the world’s most impoverished countries. The IDA reduces global poverty through loans and grants to countries struggling economically. These financial supports boost economic growth and reduce disparities between social groups in low-to-middle-income countries. Since the start of the pandemic, the IDA has funded COVID-19 response efforts in vulnerable countries. Biden’s plan for foreign aid will help provide much-needed funds to further help crisis responses in poverty-stricken countries.
The Biden Administration has said from the start that foreign aid would be the center of its foreign policy plan. It is also expected the administration will reinstate the White House National Security Council directorates who will focus on international development, global health security and biodefense. Additionally, through Biden’s plan for foreign aid, the administration hopes to create a Global Health Emergency Board, which will help vulnerable communities in crisis response. By putting aid at the center of foreign policy, the Biden administration is expected to be a more prominent figure in the fight against COVID-19 moving forward.
– Jai Phillips
Photo: Wikimedia Commons