Press Release COVID-19 IMF World

New House Bill Reaffirms Strong Congressional Support for Trillions in Special Drawing Rights as Part of Global COVID Response from Washington

February 12, 2021

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460Mail_Outline

Washington, DC ― Legislation reintroduced in the US House of Representatives today, together with companion legislation reintroduced in the US Senate two weeks ago, demonstrates the enduring support that exists in both houses of Congress for an issuance of trillions in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), assets tradable for currency, by the International Monetary Fund, at no cost to US taxpayers. The “Robust International Response to Pandemic Act,” introduced by Rep. Chuy García (D-IL) along with Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Mark Takano (D-CA), urges the US Treasury Department to support a suspension of debt payments to international financial institutions during COVID-19; to support extending the current moratorium on impoverished country debt service payments to official bilateral creditors through the end of the year; and to support the issuance of two trillion in SDRs by the IMF (with a value of $2.874 trillion).

“This bill shows continued congressional momentum in favor of an allocation of trillions in SDRs so that low- and middle-income countries can better respond to the COVID pandemic and related economic challenges,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. 

Similar legislation to provide “at least two trillion” in SDRs passed the House of Representatives twice in 2020. SDRs are an internal reserve asset of the IMF, but can be exchanged for hard currency by countries in need. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that there is no cost to the US government, either at present or in the future, of any such issuance.

Last month, dozens of international humanitarian, development, health, labor, faith-based, and policy organizations representing tens of millions of members urged President Biden to act swiftly on a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular by directing the US Treasury Department to support an allocation of trillions in SDRs. The Trump Treasury Department had blocked any special issuance of SDRs at the IMF, despite the move being supported by the vast majority of the IMF’s 189 member countries, including the United States’ closest allies.

“It’s important to note that although there are reports that the US Treasury Department is in favor of a 500 billion issuance in SDRs, the US Congress has been consistent on the need for at least 2 trillion,” Weisbrot noted.

More than 110 organizations, including some of the largest humanitarian groups in the US, as well as religious denominations, are calling for a large SDR allocation. So, too, has the International Chamber of Commerce; UN Secretary-General António Guterres; former UK prime minister Gordon Brown and numerous other former heads of state, economy ministers, and other government officials around the world; and prominent economists such as Larry Summers, and former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill; as well as IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva herself.


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