July 15, 2021

Warren, Colleagues Urge Leadership to Provide at Least $30 Billion in Funding to Prevent and Prepare for Future Pandemics

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote to Congressional leadership urging them to provide at least $30 billion in the next funding package to prevent and prepare for future pandemics. In the letter, the lawmakers called on Congress to make long overdue investments to bolster the U.S. public health workforce, reduce systemic inequities in health outcomes, invest in biomedical research, expand disease surveillance capacity, and strengthen supply chains.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that underinvesting in our public health infrastructure, our biomedical research pipeline, and our medical supply chain has disastrous consequences. A robust investment in pandemic prevention and our underlying public health system is critical as the country continues to recover from COVID-19,” wrote the lawmakers.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States systemically underinvested in its public health infrastructure. In 2018, public health spending accounted for less than 3 percent of all health spending in the United States, and in the past ten years, roughly 56,000 public health jobs have disappeared due to lack of funding. These are positions that cannot be sustained with short-term COVID-19 response funding. Meanwhile, the U.S. has failed to adequately fund global health security efforts: in 2019, pandemic preparedness funding accounted for less than 1 percent of U.S. global health development assistance. Though Congress has provided significant emergency funding for public and global health in the past year, sustained, consistent funding will be necessary to truly prevent and mitigate future pandemics—which scientists believe will become more frequent in years to come.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan has called for a $30 billion investment over four years to protect against future pandemics. Specifically, the proposal would “create U.S. jobs and prevent the severe job losses caused by pandemics through major new investments in medical countermeasures manufacturing; research and development; and related biopreparedness and biosecurity”—including funding to revamp the Strategic National Stockpile, accelerate the development of vaccines and therapeutics, and invest in domestic drug development.

“We strongly support including this $30 billion investment in upcoming legislative packages. Specifically, we encourage you to develop policies that bolster our public health workforce, reduce systemic inequities in health outcomes, invest in our biomedical research pipeline, expand disease surveillance capacity, and strengthen our supply chains,” continued the lawmakers.

In October 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) led a group of 139 lawmakers in a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to prioritize the development of comprehensive policy plans to prevent and mitigate the impact of future pandemics.