July 13, 2022

ICYMI: Warren and Jayapal Lead Lawmakers in Calling for Biden Administration to Support Cost-Free Aid to Developing World

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Vice Chair Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.) led 12 Senators and 31 Representatives in letters to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, calling on the Biden administration to immediately support the issuance of at least $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), a cost-free reserve asset distributed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A new SDR issuance would provide urgently needed resources for developing countries and address the combined international crises of an ongoing pandemic and alarming increases in food insecurity and poverty, while supplying a critical infusion of immediate financial support to Ukraine. 

“Developing countries, and the billions of people who inhabit them, are facing unprecedented challenges and need financial support now… we urge the United States to pursue this opportunity to provide cost-free relief worldwide. The United States has demonstrated its leadership and the value of the existing multilateral financial system and we ask that it do so once again. It is currently in the power of the administration to immediately act in support of a new $650 billion new SDR issuance for global relief,” wrote the lawmakers. 

In 2021, the Biden administration supported the issuance of $650 billion in SDRs, which allowed at least 99 developing countries “to stabilize their currencies, shore up reserves, pay off debts, and finance health care, such as vaccinations, and other urgent needs.” 

Since then, the lawmakers point out the doubling of people facing acute food insecurity globally, billions who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, emerging debt crises, and declining economic growth in the developing world. The urgency for a new issuance of SDRs has only increased since Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the lawmakers argue, noting that the Ukrainian government used the entirety of its SDR holdings, and Ukraine’s Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko has described the need for additional SDRs as “a question of the survival of our country” in light of estimates that the country’s GDP will contract by 45 percent. Ukraine’s economic crisis has disrupted the global food supply, increasing developing countries' need for funding that can stave off life-threatening hunger. 

Signatories on the letter include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Christopher Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Michael San Nicolas (D-Guam), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), and André Carson (D-Ind.).

Senator Warren has advocated for the use of Special Drawing Rights as assistance for developing countries.

  • In January 2022, Senator Warren led colleagues in calling on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to support additional assistance to low-income and developing countries.
  • At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Finance in October 2021, Senator Warren highlighted several existing authorities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed nearly 5 million people worldwide. 
  • In February 2022, Senator Warren questioned Wally Adeyemo, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, on his commitment to issuing new Special Drawing Rights to provide low-income countries with the resources they need to fight the pandemic and help support a global economic recovery.