News Releases

Senate Appropriations subcommittee holds first hearing on the CDC’s annual funding request since 2014

Murray praises Biden Administration’s call to increase CDC’s budget by nearly a quarter

Murray on CDC budget request: “Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this budget shows they now have a President who values science and public health.”

Budget request would provide increased funding for maternal mortality, gun violence research, health inequities, and more 

Murray also discussed the need to pass her legislation to end the cycle of crisis and complacency in public health by providing annual, dedicated funding

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S FULL OPENING REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) chaired a hearing of the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat regarding the Biden Administration’s budget request for CDC in FY 2022—the first hearing the Committee has held on CDC’s annual funding request since 2014.

In her opening remarks, Senator Murray voiced her strong support of the Administration’s budget request which would raise the agency’s budget by a quarter—the largest increase in nearly 20 years—and increase funding for programs focused on addressing maternal mortality, gun violence research, health inequities, and more.

“I always say a budget is a reflection of your values and priorities, and, I think Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this budget shows they now have a President who values science and public health,” said Senator Murray.

“With new COVID-19 cases and deaths both down over 80 percent from their winter peaks, nearly three in five Americans vaccinated with their first dose, and over a third of Americans fully vaccinated—we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But even as we get closer to ending this crisis, we know we are not there yet, and we cannot afford to come up short.”

Senator Murray has long championed increased funding for public health, and introduced the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act earlier this year. PHISLA would establish a core public health infrastructure program to strengthen the country’s public health system—including the nation’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic—through grants to State, territorial, local, and Tribal health departments and increased investments at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bill also supports development and implementation of national public health accreditation. The funding for the program would ramp up over five years to $4.5 billion annually and then remain at that level, and the program would be aimed at specifically addressing eight core capabilities:

  1. Public health assessment
  2. Preparedness and response
  3. Policy development and support
  4. Communications
  5. Community partnership development
  6. Organizational competencies
  7. Accountability
  8. Equity

Senator Murray concluded her remarks by discussing the importance of ending the cycle of crisis and complacency in public health funding.

“Of course, the challenges we face are bigger than any one budget. Before this pandemic hit, only half of Americans were served by a comprehensive public health system, our public health workforce had lost 56,000 people, and state health officials estimated a quarter of their workforce was eligible to retire. We have a lot of work ahead—not just to end this pandemic—but to build and maintain a public health system capable of  addressing other pressing public health challenges, and preparing for future ones,” said Senator Murray.

Senator Murray’s full remarks are below.

“The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will please come to order.

“Today we are having a hearing on the Biden Administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—our first subcommittee hearing this Congress, and our first hearing on the CDC’s annual funding request since 2014.

“Senator Blunt, I look forward to continuing to work with you, and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to build on the progress we’ve made previously, and help families in Washington state, Missouri, and across the country. And I intend to follow the example you set when it comes to chairing hearings, of ensuring every member has an opportunity to ask questions.

“Senator Blunt and I will each have an opening statement, then I will introduce our witnesses, Director Walensky, and Principal Deputy Director Schuchat. After the witness testimony, Senators will each have five minutes for a round of questions.

“Before we begin, I want to walk through the COVID-19 safety protocols in place. We are all very grateful to our clerks and everyone who has worked so hard to get this set up, and help everyone stay safe and healthy.

“Given the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of the Attending Physician, I will be working with Senator Blunt, Committee members, and staff going forward to follow the new guidance.  

“For today, we will be conducting this hearing following similar COVID protocols to what we have used in the past: Committee members are seated at least six feet apart, and some Senators are participating by video conference. And while we are unable to have the hearing fully open to the public or media for in-person attendance, live video is available on our Committee website.

“And if you are in need of accommodations, including closed captioning, you can reach out to the Committee, or the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services.

“I always say a budget is a reflection of your values and priorities, and, I think Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this budget shows they now have a President who values science and public health.

“COVID-19 has offered a stark reminder of why we must make, and maintain, robust investments in public health. Experts at CDC have been on the frontlines of this crisis from day one—and every day since. We’ve seen firsthand how critical it is CDC be equipped to effectively collect and analyze data in real-time; communicate science-based public health guidance; help communities across the country get tests, vaccines, and clear, reliable information to people; and address inequities that undermine the health of people of color, people with disabilities, rural communities, and others.

“That’s why I’ve pushed for more funding for public health throughout this crisis. The tens of billions of dollars we’ve provided through six COVID bills so far, are supporting invaluable public health work at every level so we can finally end this pandemic. It has helped update and modernize data systems needed to track infections, variants, tests, vaccines, and inequities among demographic groups.

“It has helped fight misinformation, and promote simple protective measures that have saved countless lives—like wearing masks and social distancing.

“It has helped expand our testing efforts, get vaccines into arms, and build partnerships with trusted voices in hard-to-reach communities.

“And I was pleased to hear the Biden Administration announce last week it was investing over $7 billion from the American Rescue Plan, through CDC to create tens of thousands of jobs in public health at the state and local levels to fight COVID-19, and to help transition some of those workers to permanent careers as public health professionals.

“With new cases and deaths both down over 80 percent from their winter peaks, nearly three in five Americans vaccinated with their first dose, and over a third of Americans fully vaccinated, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But even as we get closer to ending this crisis, we know we are not there yet, and we cannot afford to come up short.

“That’s why, after years of underinvestment in CDC—and attempted cuts to CDC by President Trump—this budget request is such a breath of fresh air. President Biden’s request of $8.7 billion would increase CDC’s budget authority by nearly a quarter.

“I’ve been pushing for more public health funding for years now, and I’m excited to say this would be the largest budget authority increase for CDC in nearly two decades.

“These investments will help us finish strong when it comes to this pandemic, prepare for the next one and make progress on other public health challenges.

“Investments, in CDC—as well as requested increases for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—will help address the  record number of drug overdose deaths and the spike in mental health issues, we have seen as a result of this pandemic.

“COVID-19 has also put a painful spotlight on how racism, sexism, ableism, and bigotry hurt so many people in this country.

“CDC’s recent announcement of a two-year plan to invest more than $2 billion to work on COVID-19 related health disparities, was an important step toward addressing this reality.

“And the Administration’s request to dramatically increase the Social Determinants of Health program Congress established at CDC last year—from $3 million to $153 million—will help make sure our response to health inequities is truly comprehensive. 

“Because there are so many other challenges we need to tackle head-on.

“For example, Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. And, our overall maternal mortality rate is the worst in the developed world.

“So I’m glad the Administration’s budget request includes $200 million to reduce maternal mortality nationwide and address disparities—an increase of $140 million.

“It also invests in other public health threats that have gone too long with too little attention. It doubles funding for gun violence prevention research and establishes a new $100 million Community-Based Violence Intervention program between CDC and the Department of Justice. And it increases funding for CDC’s Climate and Health program by $100 million.

“Of course, the challenges we face are bigger than any one budget.

“Before this pandemic hit, only half of Americans were served by a comprehensive public health system, our public health workforce had lost 56,000 people, and state health officials estimated a quarter of their workforce was eligible to retire.

“We have a lot of work ahead—not just to end this pandemic—but to build and maintain a public health system capable of addressing other pressing public health challenges and preparing for future ones.

“That’s why, earlier this year, I re-introduced the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act—which would finally end the dangerous cycle of crisis and complacency in public health funding by providing dedicated, annual investments in public health.

“Director Walensky, Principal Deputy Director Schuchat, I look forward to hearing from you about how investments like this—and like those put forward in the Administration’s budget request—can help families in Washington state, Missouri, and across the country. And I look forward to working with my colleagues to make the investments we need a reality.

“Finally, Dr. Schuchat, I also understand you are leaving CDC this summer after over 30 years with the agency. I know I speak for everyone on the Committee when I say I’m grateful we’ve had your expertise and leadership helping to see our nation through so many public health challenges. Thank you for your service.

“And now I’ll turn it over to Senator Blunt for his remarks.”

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