Trump Abandons Plans To Cut CDC Funding Amid Pandemic

0
224

After weeks in which the Coronavirus outbreak has raged in the United States and around the world, the Trump administration has finally undone┬áits request for Congress to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by a substantial amount. As recently as last week, White House Budget Chief Russ Vought insisted — smack dab in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic — that there’d be no new budget proposal from the White House, but this Tuesday, it dropped.

Previously, the president’s team had proposed slashing $1.2 billion from the budget at the CDC, along with $451 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which prominent Coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Anthony Fauci leads. In the new budget proposal for the upcoming 2021 fiscal year, the president’s team wants to increase overall CDC funding to $8.3 billion, which works out to about $100 million more than current levels. Vought’s new budget proposal also increases proposed NIAID funding by $440 million, which is slightly below the office’s current budget.

In his budget proposal update, Vought seemed to acknowledge the changing situation — meaning the Coronavirus. He wrote:

‘This FY 2021 Budget amendment increases funding for CDC to ensure that the Agency has the resources beginning October 1, 2020, to continue its critical public health mission.’

The budget request reversal only begins to scratch the surface of the rollbacks that the Trump administration has inflicted across the federal public health infrastructure. The pandemic response team at the National Security Council, for instance, remains dissolved.

The Trump administration’s budget proposals, in any form, have always seemed well-poised to be simply completely ignored by Congress. A wide array of draconian cuts to departments ranging from State to Health and Human Services have consistently made appearances in the proposals, and concerned observers have consistently denounced the plans.

In the wake of the original most recent budget proposal from the White House, Congressional Democrats had already spoken out. The Democrat-led House Budget Committee insisted that the president’s latest Department of Health and Human Services budget “jeopardizes the health care security of millions of Americans and their families” because “[instead] of investing in protecting public health and improving the health care programs millions of Americans rely on, the budget calls for massive funding cuts and extreme policy changes.” Those hoped-for cuts included more than $900 billion slashed from Medicaid, around half a trillion dollars swiped from Medicare, and more, which flies in the face of the president’s repeated past insistence that he would protect those valuable social safety net programs.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has just unveiled a new Coronavirus relief funding package, which Axios describes as “one of the largest and most expensive stimulus packages in American history.” It includes “direct payments of $1,200 to individual Americans making less than $75,000 annually” and large sums for a swath of industries that have been extremely hard-hit by Coronavirus response measures, ranging from small businesses to airlines. Negotiations between the Republicans and Democrats are getting underway, but McConnell has insisted that the “Senate is not going anywhere until we take action.”