WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Vice Chair Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led 31 House members and 13 U.S. Senators in 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 to address the “combined international crises” of an ongoing pandemic and alarming increases in food insecurity and poverty, while providing a critical infusion of immediate financial support to Ukraine.

In a letter to President Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen, the lawmakers cite a doubling of those facing acute food insecurity globally, billions who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, emerging debt crises, and declining economic growth in the developing world. They cite the success of last year’s SDR issuance, 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.” 

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 holdings. 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. A new SDR issuance “would provide the Ukrainian government with an immediate and vital $2.75 billion boost in its reserves,” they note.

Support for an even larger issuance of SDRs enjoys broad support in Congress, with the House  having voted in favor of authorizing nearly $1 trillion in new SDRs for developing countries last year, with the advocacy of the chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Black Caucus, Hispanic Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Caucus. Through unilateral action, the Biden Administration can support an issuance of an additional $275 billion for developing countries, a key demand among the Progressive Caucus’s executive action recommendations. The UN Global Crisis Response Group recently echoed congressional support, arguing that “all available rapid disbursement mechanisms at international finance institutions must be reactivated, and a new emission of Special Drawing Rights must be pursued.”

“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,” the lawmakers conclude. “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.” 

Signatories on the letter include: Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Karen Bass (CA-37), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), James McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Marie Newman (IL-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Michael San Nicolas (GU), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Juan Vargas (CA-51), and Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Cory A. Booker (NJ), Senate Banking Chair Sherrod Brown (OH), Benjamin L. Cardin (MD), Robert P. Casey Jr. (PA), Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick J. Leahy (VT), Edward J. Markey (MA), Jeffrey A. Merkley (OR), Alex Padilla (CA), Bernard Sanders (VT), Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (OR), and Christopher Van Hollen (MD). 

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