Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
The president released an outline of his budget proposal this morning, otherwise known as a skinny budget release after months of anticipation. The $1.52 trillion request includes a 16 percent increase – $769 billion for non-defense domestic discretionary programs (where STD prevention is federally funded) and a 1.5 percent increase – $753 billion for national defense funding. It doesn’t include the former budget caps that have been in place this past decade which makes this year’s budget a prime opportunity to pursue needed investments in priorities like education, energy, and public health.
The proposal also includes the largest requested increase for the CDC in over 20 years of $8.6 billion. The administration highlighted the request was necessary as the U.S. entered into the pandemic realized a need to improve readiness for future public health threats. The announcement highlights that the CDC would use “this additional funding to support core public health capacity improvements in States and Territories, modernize public health data collection nationwide, train new epidemiologists and other public health experts, and build international capacity to detect, prepare for, and respond to emerging global threats.” There is no information on the funding amount for the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention will be funded yet.
Also, the skinny budget announced eye-popping numbers dedicated to accelerating and strengthening efforts to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US – including $670 million within HHS that would “help aggressively reduce new HIV cases while increasing access to treatment, expanding the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), and ensure equitable access to services and supports.”
Last Friday, the CDC updated its domestic travel guidance explaining that it is safe for fully vaccinated people to fly two weeks after receiving their final vaccine dose. The guidance mentioned that fliers will still be required to practice safety measures and international travel restrictions barring non-citizen entry from world hotspots will remain in effect.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will beat on originally set May 1 deadline for the date that all Americans would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, highlighting that by April 19 all American adults will be eligible to “get in line.”
However, the positive news came with heavy warnings from the White House and public health officials. On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced that surveillance of the more deadly strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom, B.1.1.7 shows that it is now the most dominant strain currently circulating in the U.S.
Dr. Anthony Fauci – after his announcement on Monday that the U.S. wouldn’t require the highly contentious vaccination passports — warned of an oncoming surge on Wednesday, evidenced by current numbers which have plateaued at a “disturbingly high level[s].”