March 13, 2017

Senate and House Leaders Raise Concerns About the Impact of President Trump's Decisions on HHS and CDC Preparedness for a Flu Pandemic

Full text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Gene Green (D-Texas), and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), today wrote to Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ask how several actions taken by the Trump administration could harm the CDC's preparedness for a pandemic flu outbreak.

"The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would lead the federal government response to a pandemic flu," wrote the Members of Congress. "But alarmingly, President Trump has issued at least seven threats to ‘proven programs'" that the agency would rely on as part of an effective response to such a threat.

The letter explains that this includes the president's proposed drastic budget cuts that would likely affect public health; plans by the president and congressional Republicans to abolish the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) as part of their repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); President Trump's failure to appoint key public health officials; his executive order imposing a federal government hiring freeze; his executive orders imposing a regulatory freeze and instituting barriers and delays to new regulations; his executive order imposing a travel ban on citizens from certain countries; and his own history of false statements about vaccine safety.

The letter includes a series of questions, such as requests for information about the impacts of the Trump administration's actions on agency's ability to respond to a pandemic flu outbreak; how Trump's executive order banning travel from six Muslim countries has affected CDC employees, as well as the agency's ability to collaborate internationally on pandemic preparedness; and how Trump's record of false statements concerning vaccines may deter the public from seeking vaccines for the flu.