US senate Democrats introduce legislation for US$9 billion in international COVID-19 assistance

Nine US Democratic senators introduced legislation to authorize US$9 billion in funding to help with the international COVID-19 response. The bill, 'COVID-19 International Response and Recovery Act', known as CIRRA, calls upon the US to assert strong leadership at the global level and to work with the multilateral fora to help ensure a "comprehensive and coordinated response." CIRRA also included: 

  • The immediate restoration of funding to the World Health Organization, including payment of arrears;
  • US$2.8 billion for the United Nations, including US$500 million for the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan;
  • US$4.4 billion for humanitarian relief;
  • US$1 billion in funding to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and 
  • US$200 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

CIRRA will also restore funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which the Trump administration had stopped, and called for global health security functions to be restored in accordance with the Global Health Security Act.  The bill singled out the role of the new US Development Finance Corporation (DFC), calling upon it to take on riskier investments that could have a greater development impact and providing for a new surge financing authority for the DFC to speed decision making in the COVID-19 response.  

The development stakeholder community had pushed for a slightly larger response package of US$12 billion. Passage of this legislation in its entirety is not viewed as likely, especially given the UNFPA mandate, but parts of it could be added to any further relief bills that Congress considers. 

News article - Devex