Why US Lawmakers Are Exasperated Over Food Crisis Emergency Funds

When something is deemed an emergency, immediate action is normally taken — yet this has not been the case for the global food crisis. On May 19, per the New York Times, Congress passed a $40 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine, which included $4.4 billion for "international disaster assistance." This part of the aid package aims to help areas around the world that are hardest hit by food shortages caused by the conflict.

But the emergency aid for the food crisis have yet to be delivered to those who need it, according to Politico, as the U.S. Government has not released the funds. At-risk populations in places like Africa and the Middle East are struggling with increasing food prices and shortages. So the funding is designed to be released quickly through cash transfers. The package also includes billions to help with the food situation in Ukraine. But there have been delays and U.S. lawmakers are exasperated.

Increasing frustration in Washington, D.C.

Politico explains that frustrated lawmakers have not been able to get an explanation for the delays from the Biden administration. "I know the sincerity and a sense of urgency is shared by all parties here," said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who sits on both the Senate Agriculture and Foreign Relations Committees, in the article. "But at this point, every day literally people are dying." Many lawmakers are taking their concerns to the United State Agency for International Development (USAID), where officials have blamed "logistical challenges" for the delays. The USAID has also said that the funding will be split between this fiscal year and next (starting in October) to help with continued needs. This is causing further frustration. "It's an interesting decision for an emergency package," one Congressional staffer was quoted in the article.

Even before the conflict in Ukraine, the UN World Food Program said 44 million people around the world were already threatened by famine. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has only caused more instability. So the agency said the "lifesaving" funding is much-needed.