This Tuesday, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget stood firm on proposed cuts to health services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even as the health crisis sparked by the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow.
During a hearing to address President Trump’s 2021 budget request, Russ Vought was questioned by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) about a proposed cut of $9.5 billion to Health and Human Services funding, including a 15 percent cut of $1.2 billion to the CDC and a $35 million decrease to the Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund’s funding.
“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.
“We fund with a 3 percent increase all of the activities the CDC does,” Vought replied. “We have different reductions and increases within that amount. On an overall level for CDC, we are trying to take from less priority activities…”
“You said that — overall, you cut,” Cartwright interjected. “And the question is, today, as we sit here and we know about coronavirus and the impact it’s 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, that $25 million decrease in public health preparedness and response outlays?”
Vought dodged the question, but Cartwright pressed.
“That was another yes or no question. Are you prepared to take that back?”
“To your question, if you’re asking if I’m sending up the budget amendment, no, I’m not sending up the budget amendment,” Vought replied.