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Earlier this month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to the head of USAID asking him to reinstate the program in light of the spread of coronavirus.
The current deadly viral outbreak and its quick appearance in the United States make clear that PREDICTs contributions to zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting must continue, she wrote. We simply cannot afford to go backwards and jeopardize the success weve seen over the last ten years.
The president has defended his administrations response and preparedness efforts as incredible. On Wednesday, he tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead a coronavirus task force formed late last month that was being led by Azar. Other members of the task force include NSA OBrien, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.
A Clear And Present Danger
There is no wall high enough to keep virulent pathogens from crossing national borders, and when they emerge there is a potential for widespread illness and death. Containing the first major Ebola epidemic in 2014-2016, which killed 11,000 people in West Africa, required an enormous global effort. Only 11 patients were treated for Ebola in the U.S., but that was because President Obama took the threat seriously, appointing an Ebola czar to coordinate U.S. preparedness and assistance.
Now that the White House has evicted the NSCs global health security experts, it is not clear who in the Trump administration will be responsible for coordinating U.S. efforts in the event of a global pandemic.
The new coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, has already spread to 25 countries. The CDC has confirmed that person-to-person transmission has occurred in the U.S. It will take a large-scale effort to contain this outbreak, and battling the virus requires money.
Although the Gates Foundation and other charities give away billions of dollars to promote public health, such gifts are no substitute for the kind of specific, targeted scientific research into emerging diseases that the CDC and other federal agencies are uniquely designed to conduct. Fighting epidemics also requires planning to prepare and coordinate with hospitals, medical professionals, pharmacies, airlines, local government and the general public, which also requires funding.
Trumps Who Cutoff Sends Officials Allies Scrambling
One of the presidents top public health officials also distanced himself from the move.
Alex Brandon/AP Photo
04/15/2020 02:24 PM EDT
President Donald Trumps 60-day freeze on U.S. funding of the World Health Organization was met with swift criticism Wednesday, with defenders of the United Nations agency denouncing the directive as a risky and baffling maneuver amid the very kind of global pandemic it was meant to combat.
Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist who has pledged billions to help speed development of a coronavirus vaccine, tweeted that halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds.
Inside the State Department, officials scrambled to make sense of the White Houses decision. James L. Richardson, the director of U.S. foreign assistance resources, informed his staff in a brief email that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had instructed diplomats and aid officials to identify and utilize alternative implementers for foreign assistance beyond the WHO.
By taking this approach, Richardson wrote, we can continue our good work on behalf of the American people, while ensuring that U.S. foreign assistance is best positioned to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world, as Americans have always done.
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
President Donald Trump and Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19.
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Did Donald Trump Fire Pandemic Officials Defund Cdc
If Your Time is short
- Fired may be a little strong, but in 2018, top national security officials handling pandemics left abruptly and were not replaced by the Trump administration.
- As for funding, theres no question that the Trump administration sought to cut key CDC budget categories. But thanks to Congress, that funding was restored and even increased in bills that Trump ultimately signed.
During a CNN town hall before the South Carolina primary, Mike Bloomberg a former New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate was asked whether he had confidence in President Donald Trump to handle a potential coronavirus pandemic, officially known as the COVID-19 virus.
After jokingly saying, “I feel so much better,” Bloomberg told the audience, “No. 1, he fired the pandemic team two years ago. No. 2, he’s been defunding the Centers for Disease Control. So, we don’t have the experts in place that we need. I hope he’s right that the virus doesn’t come here, that nobody gets sick. That would be a wonderful outcome. But the bottom line is, we are not ready for this kind of thing.”
Bloomberg had a point that the Trump administration ousted some of its officials dealing with global pandemics, but “defunding” the CDC is more complicated than he let on.
Instead, Trump has looked within his administration to fill roles for the coronavirus response.
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Budgets are like the first move in a chess game with, Ill be honest, a fairly profligate Congress, Azar said. And the president starts that move with a budget knowing that were going to get a lot higher there as we work with Congress.
As health officials gear up to confront a potential outbreak, the administration is asking Congress to authorize an additional $2.5 billion in supplemental funding for 2020 aimed at accelerating vaccine development and other containment measures. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has suggested that figure is not sufficient, and Congress should allocate an additional $8.5 billion for fighting coronavirus.
But its not just the presidents budget proposals that are under the microscope as fears of a new coronavirus outbreak mount. Bloomberg also took aim at Trump for eliminating a position from the National Security Council responsible for coordinating administration efforts to combat infectious disease.
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Deep Cuts To Environmental Initiatives
The administration reserved some of its deepest cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency, which would face a 26 percent reduction in funding and the elimination of 50 programs Mr. Trump deemed wasteful or duplicative.
Thats about the level the administration has moved to cut the E.P.A. in past years, but Congress has typically restored much of the funding. Last year, for example, lawmakers ultimately provided $9.1 billion to the agency, replacing popular programs the administration had tried to eliminate like federal efforts to clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.
According to 2021 budget documents the Trump administration has proposed $6.7 billion in total E.P.A. spending, which would shrink the agency to funding levels it last saw during the 1990s. A budget summary said the administration aims to prioritize core functions like addressing lead exposure in water and revitalizing former toxic cleanup sites. On the chopping block are programs the administration deemed outside of the E.P.A.s core mission like beach cleanup.
The budget does not mention climate change. It also states misleadingly that air pollutant emissions dropped between 2016 and 2018, and credited the Trump administration with overseeing some of the cleanest air and water in the world while eliminating clean air and water regulations.
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The budget requests additional funding for investments in areas considered crucial for American competitiveness, particularly advanced technology, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing and 5G telecom networks.
The White House has proposed allowing the Commerce Department to auction off more telecom spectrum to private companies, one of the main bottlenecks in the countrys effort to advance 5G. The change would give private companies more access to a scarce resource and generate $670 million over the next 10 years, the administration said.
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Congress Rebukes Trumps Bid To Slash Cdc Funding Amid Outbreak
By: Robin Bravender– March 11, 2020 9:15 am
Rep. Mark Pocan
WASHINGTON U.S. House lawmakers resoundingly rebuffed a Trump administration request to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amid the coronavirus crisis.
The CDC director testified Tuesday before the House Appropriations Committee, where Republicans and Democrats alike said Congress wont comply with the budget cuts requested in Trumps fiscal year 2021 spending plan. The White House proposed to cut CDCs overall spending by 9% in the next fiscal year.
This subcommittee will not be pursuing the administrations proposed cuts. To cut from our public health infrastructure during an outbreak is beyond consideration, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro , the chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the CDCs budget.
Instead, Congress will aim to funnel more money into the CDC and the nations public health system, she added. We will not lurch from crisis to crisis and lapse into complacency in between. We cannot. This coronavirus outbreak makes that clear.
Rep. Tom Cole , the top Republican on the subcommittee, agreed. Im quite sure that we wont be cutting the CDC anytime soon. I suspect quite the opposite, Cole told the CDC director.
The answer is different in different areas, Redfield said. Were in a containment in certain areas. I would say in general were in a containment, blended mitigation, in some areas were in high mitigation.
I cant predict, Redfield told her.
Trump Seeks To Cut Nih Cdc Budgets Some Medicare Spending
Kerry Dooley Young
The Trump administration on Monday argued for cutting spending for a federal agency at the forefront of the efforts to combat the coronavirus, while also seeking to slow spending in certain parts of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
President Donald Trump presented his fiscal 2021 request to Congress for refilling the coffers of federal agencies. In any administration, an annual budget serves only as a political blueprint, as the White House document itself makes no changes in federal spending.
In Trump’s case, several of his requests for agencies within the Department of Health & Human Services run counter to recent budget trends. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have worked together in recent years to increase budgets for major federal health agencies.
But Trump asked Congress to cut annual budget authority for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases by $430 million to $5.446 billion for fiscal 2021.
In contrast, Congress has raised the annual budget for NIAID, a key agency in combating the coronavirus, from $5.545 billion in fiscal 2019 to $5.876 billion in fiscal 2020, which began in October, according to an HHS summary of Trump’s request.
For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , which is central to the battle against the coronavirus, Trump proposed a drop in discretionary funding to $5.627 billion. In contrast, Congress raised this CDC budget from $6.544 billion in fiscal 2019 to $6.917 in fiscal 2020.
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Trump Budget Chief Holds Firm On Cdc Cuts Amid Virus Outbreak
Russ Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, on Tuesday doubled down on proposed cuts to health services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Vought came under intense questioning from Rep. Matt Cartwright at a hearing about President Trumps 2021 budget request. It proposed cutting Health and Human Services funding by $9.5 billion, including a 15 percent cut of $1.2 billion to the CDC and a $35 million decrease to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Funds annual contribution.
The question I have is, are we prepared to fight pandemics if we cut from programs that are specifically designed to prepare for them, including the coronavirus? Cartwright asked.
Vought responded by saying Trump signed into law the $8.3 billion emergency supplemental package Congress approved last week.
That funding, a significant increase over the $2.5 billion emergency request the White House sent over, would be spread out over several years. The funding in question at the hearing was for next years spending. Cartwright pressed Vought as to whether he would amend the request.
The question is today, as we sit here and we know about coronavirus and the impact its taking on the people of the world and the economies of the world and the stock market and everything, as you sit here today, are you ready to take that back? he pressed.
National Institutes Of Health
The proposed budget outlines an 18% cut to the NIH, which funds biomedical research, including cancer research. A number of organizations came out against the cuts
A group of medical schools, patient organizations, and doctors spoke out against the cut, instead asking Congress to increase the NIH’s budget by $2 billion in a full-page ad in Politico and the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
And Republican Rep. Tom Cole told Vox that cutting research would be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
“You hurt your ability to deal with disease in your country and disease is enormously expensive not just for individuals but society in general,” Cole said.
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How Will Cdc Cuts Affect Health Programs Abroad And At Home
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently lost hundreds of millions of dollars in funding cuts, including a $750 million cut in December. On Friday, President Trump signed a bill that slashed $1.35 billion from its Prevention and Public Health Fund over the next 10 years. Ashley Yeager, associate editor at The Scientist, joins Hari Sreenivasan from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Covid Pandemic Slashes Life Expectancy Heres Where It Fell The Most
Key background: Trumps budget proposals have historically taken aim at science funding, although the 2021 proposal amps up spending for NASAto get astronauts back on the moonand to build the National Quantum Internet, which would theoretically be impossible to hack, according to the Post. Including HHS and the CDC, other programs possibly facing deep cuts include affordable housing, student loan assistance, Medicaid and food stamps. But the budget will wend its way through the Congressional Budget Office, as well as House and Senate committees and subcommittees, before any dollar amounts are approved by Congress. Presidents budgets are a reflection of administration priorities, but in the end, they are just a list of suggestions, Sen. Michael M. Enzi , who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, told the New York Times Monday.
Tangent: WHO said the coronavirus new name, Covid-19, which comes from coronavirus disease and the year in which it was discovered, was chosen to avoid stigma based on geographical location, the name of an animal, a person or a group of people.
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Centers For Disease Control And Prevention
The CDC, which is in charge of public health and disease prevention, would see its budget cut by $1.2 billion. Dr. Tom Frieden, who was director of the agency until 2017, went off on the proposed cuts on Twitter on Monday, saying Americans would be “less safe,” and that the cuts “would increase illness, death, risks to Americans, and health care costs.”
Dr. Tom Frieden May 23, 2017
He then outlined the direct impact the cuts would have on CDC’s programs, including to emergency preparedness programs and immunizations.
Dr. Tom Frieden May 23, 2017
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Asked about the criticism at a House budget hearing Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that, during the presidents tenure, every part of our preparedness and infectious disease program activity has been enhanced and expanded.
Azar went on the say the presidents budget proposals are just the jumping-off point for budget negotiations.
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Trump Budget Proposal A Disinvestment In Us Health: Cuts To Cdc Hrsa
Despite increasing health threats, the White House is calling for slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the countrys lead public health agencies.
In February, President Donald Trump released his federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2021, calling for a cut of more than $693 million at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a $742 million cut to programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration. Overall, the presidents budget proposes a 9% funding cut at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a 26% cut at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, massive cuts in Medicare and Medicaid spending, and funding decreases for safety net programs such as food and housing assistance.
This budget, put simply, is a disinvestment in the health of Americans, said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a news release. We have an incredibly dedicated public health workforce that is ready to act. But we need federal investments to make that happen. An adequate and rational investment in the health of Americans is missing from this budget.
While White House budget proposals are typically considered dead on arrival meaning the final budget that makes it out of congressional negotiations and is signed into law will likely look nothing like Trumps proposal health advocates warn that it still serves as a starting point for negotiations.