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Shaheen Leads NH Delegation in Urging President Trump to Fund Coronavirus Prevention Efforts in His Budget

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a letter with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) calling on President Trump to increase federal funding to respond to the coronavirus in his budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2021. President Trump’s previous budget request, for FY 2020, called for significant funding cuts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – federal agencies that lead the United States’ response to pandemic viruses, as well as efforts to prevent virus transmission and expedite vaccine development. 

In their letter, the delegation wrote, “Granite Staters and Americans across the country are alarmed by recent news of the spread of the coronavirus, which now includes several confirmed cases in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared the coronavirus as a global health emergency and estimates that there are more than 10,000 cases worldwide. State health officials from New Hampshire have been working hand-in-hand with CDC and have expressed appreciation for the federal agency’s efforts to spearhead our response to the coronavirus. These state health officials have reiterated that additional resources could allow for expansion of testing sites to more communities, which would enable a faster response to potential coronavirus cases.” 

This morning, Senators Shaheen and Hassan participated in a briefing on the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak from Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, leaders at the CDC, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department. Last week, Shaheen was briefed by New Hampshire State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan about efforts to protect Granite Staters from the coronavirus. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has repeatedly supported efforts to boost funding for the CDC and NIH in annual government funding legislation. 

As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senator Hassan joined a number of colleagues in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requesting updates on the administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The delegation’s letter continued, “We are concerned that you called for significant reductions to CDC and NIAID funding in your FY 2020 budget. Specifically, your FY 2020 budget proposal requested a $768.9 million cut in funding to NIAID, which amounts to a 13.9 percent reduction for an agency that plays a vital role in vaccine development. Your FY 2020 budget also called for a $102.9 million reduction in funding for CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, equivalent to a 16.8 percent cut. The FY 2020 budget proposal requested a $68.1 million decrease in funding for CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, an 8.5 percent cut for the center. These two centers within CDC are responsible for much of the agency’s response to pandemic threats like the coronavirus.” 

The delegation closed their letter by reiterating the urgent need for the administration to work together with Congress to make bipartisan investments in vital disease prevention programs. 

The letter can be read in full here.