House lawmakers criticize Trump's bid to lower NIH, CDC budgets

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WASHINGTON – House lawmakers who will write the next bill for federal medical programs & # 39; s criticized the Trump government's bid to change the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). to lower.

At a Wednesday session of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who testified before the subcommittee, why Congress has increased NIH funding for recent years. The NIH budget has increased in annual increments from about $ 2 billion to $ 3 billion, from about $ 30 billion in fiscal 2015 to $ 39.3 billion in fiscal year 2019. The White House asked Congress to approve NIH funding to $ 34.4 billion in fiscal 2020.

The recent introduction of the NIH funds by Congress is meant to do more than fund the promising science, which is already underway in federal money laboratories, said Cole, who previously served as chairman of the labor subcommittee and education. The increases are intended to encourage younger scientists to continue a career in research by demonstrating that lawmakers are seriously committed to the work of NIH, Cole said.

The proposed NIH cutback "would reverse this trend and send the wrong signals to young scientists," Cole told Azar, adding that he did not believe that Congress would implement President Donald Trump's requested reduction.

Cole became the ranking Republican member of the Labor-HHS Education Credits Subcommittee when Democrats took control of the House. In that role, he retains a powerful influence on the budgets of federal medical authorities.

Cole also called the White House's request to save funding for CDC a "risky mistake."

The White House has proposed to reduce CDC's fiscal 2020 financing to $ 5.3 billion for fiscal 2020 from around $ 6.6 billion in fiscal year 2019.

Cole, who is also a member of the defense credit subcommittee, has framed this cutback as contrary to the objectives of the White House's request to increase the Pentagon's spending. The proposed budget for the 2020 budget aims to increase defense department spending by $ 33 billion, or 5%, from the current level, to $ 718 billion.

"I consider this as good as a defense budget as something at DOD [US Department of Defense], "Cole said about the CDC's tax request.

"As I have said before, we will die much more often in pandemics than in terrorist attacks. This is really the front line of defense, I think, for the American people. And in an era of Ebola and Zika and thank goodness know what else, I think this is not a place where we want to reduce spending, "he said.

Bipartisan Criticism

House Democrats labor-HHS education panel also strongly criticized Tenders bids to cut the budget of these agencies. House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) suggested the President's request to apply $ 8.6 billion to a border wall for medical research.

Azar responded that there are "efficiencies" in the NIH budget, given the recent increases. But then he admitted that he too was worried about the cutbacks, adding that he had been instructed to "make difficult choices" in the budget.

"Excuse me, sir, but I have listened well, I understand your sincerity, but you are going to cut the NIH and put $ 8.6 billion into a border wall?" Lowey said. "This is absurd."

Immigration, gun security

Democratic legislators, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the HHS secretary flu about policy for handling cases of children who were separated from their parents during immigration attempts. DeLauro, the chairperson of the HHS subcommittee on labor and education, said there will be a hearing on HHS's Unaccompanied Children program.

Although the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforces much of immigration enforcement, HHS supervises the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). In recent years, ORR has experienced an increase in the number of children trying to travel alone from Central America to the United States. As a result of Trump's administrative policy, ORR also had to deal with cases where children were taken from parents who tried to emigrate.

In a January report, the HHS Inspector General noted that in June 2018, a federal government ordered a court order to identify and reunite divorced families who met certain criteria. From December 2018, the department had identified 2,737 children who were separated from their parents and who needed to be reunited. This number does not represent the full range of family divorces, according to the HHS Inspector General's report.

The report also noted that in the months following the court decision, ORR received at least 118 children who had been divorced by the DHS and who had been referred to ORR for care.

"The HHS must return the Unaccompanied Children program to its core mission to care for vulnerable children and place them with sponsors, rather than being an immigration enforcement agency. We need to understand how this happened, why it happened and who is responsible," DeLauro said at the hearing. "What is the impact on children? What are the long-term consequences, including mental health and trauma? How do we stop this? How do we fix it? What resources are needed?"

DeLauro also noted that the HHS Education subcommittee held a hearing last week on the need for research into arms safety. She said she plans to let CDC and NIH do more about this topic.

"Violence is a public health emergency," DeLauro said during the HHS budget hearing. "In 2017 alone, rifles killed nearly 40,000 Americans. In the same year, opioid overdoses killed 47,000 Americans, and we raised huge public dollars, especially in this subcommittee, to grab one and investigate one, but not the other. "

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