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Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Sen. Murray promotes $1.85B budget increase for CDC, public health funding amidst pandemic

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Fed up with the dangers of an unprepared and underfunded public health system, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) voiced support this week for a fiscal year 2022 bill that would increase Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding by $1.85 billion.

The bill, released by the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) subcommittee of which Murray is a senior member, would increase the CDC’s total budget to $9.7 billion and up public health infrastructure funding to $600 million — a full $200 million above what President Joe Biden requested earlier this year. A further $106 million would go toward rebuilding the nation’s public health workforce, which has taken a beating under the long-running COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the struggle to ramp up testing capacity, to the chaos caused by outdated data systems, to the strain put on an already dwindling public health workforce, to the damage done by longstanding health inequities—this pandemic has shown us time and time again how dangerous it is to leave our public health system unprepared and underfunded,” Murray said. “If we are going to save lives when crisis strikes, we need to learn our lesson and make bold investments in public health, so I’m glad the funding bill released today reflects that reality.”

If passed, the bill would represent the largest increase in the CDC’s budget authority in nearly 20 years. For local health departments, it would also work to counteract the 55,000 person job loss the industry has faced since 2009 — approximately a quarter of its total workforce. Another $715 million would go toward the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Program to help those health departments have the means to rapidly detect, monitor, and respond to public health threats.

Nearly $3 billion would also be issued to the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), split between everything from the Strategic National Stockpile to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Pandemic Influenza vaccines.

Murray herself has also advocated for the inclusion of public health funding in Biden’s Build Back Better plan currently being debated in Congress.