Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
NCSD Policy Staff
June 10, 2022
The House Appropriations Committee has announced the panel’s markup schedule. The Labor-Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee will meet on June 23 with the full committee to follow on June 30. The funding levels for the STD programs will be released after the subcommittee markup and the language provisions will be available after the full committee markup.
On June 8, the House, by a vote of 223-204, passed a package of gun control bills. It is unlikely that the Senate will garner the 60 votes necessary to pass the House legislation, however the Senate is working on its own bill which is focused on mental health and school security. The “Protecting Our Kids Act” would:
raise the legal purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21;
ban the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of large capacity magazines;
establish requirements to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises; and
create criminal penalties for violations.
NCSD Letter to the President
On June 9, David Harvey, Executive Director of NCSD sent a letter to the President requesting that the Administration ask Congress for $100 million, including $30 million designated to STD, to support a coordinated Federal response to the monkeypox outbreak. The letter also calls for a White House summit to be convened to address the outbreak. The letter can be found here.
CDC Monkeypox Response
Transmission: On June 9, the CDC issued a press release on the transmission of monkey pox and stated that the virus is completely different than those that cause COVID-19 or measles. It is not known to linger in the air and is not transmitted during short periods of shared airspace. Monkeypox spreads through direct contact with body fluids or sores on the body of someone who has monkeypox, or from direct contact with materials that have touched body fluids or sores, such as clothing or linens. It may also spread through respiratory secretions when people have close, face-to-face contact. The press release can be found here.
Statistics: As global monkeypox cases continue to rise, public-health officials and researchers are questioning whether the current outbreaks can be contained. The WHO has said that the situation is unlikely to escalate into a full-blown pandemic. But more than 1,000 people have now been confirmed to have been infected with the virus in nearly 30 countries spreading beyond countries where the virus is endemic. As of this week, the US has 45 confirmed cases.
Vaccines: The Biden administration has assured the public that the U.S. has enough smallpox vaccine in its stockpile to immunize the entire population in the event of a smallpox or monkeypox emergency. However, some are questioning the smallpox vaccine numbers publicly disclosed by the Administration last May. The stockpile of fewer than 101 million doses would be enough to vaccinate less than one-third of Americans. Officials released more numbers this week but declined to elaborate on which vaccines made up the additional 200 million-plus doses required to immunize the US. nor would they talk about antivirals, citing security concerns.
Other Legislation and Happenings Around the Nation:
Young Adults Identifying as Transgender or Nonbinary
New data from Pew Research Center shows that while about 1.6% of the general U.S. population identifies as transgender or nonbinary, for those under 30, it rises to 5%.
Vaccines for Kids: Advisers to the FDA and the CDC are scheduled to meet next week to review data on Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine for kids ages 6 months to 5 years. If the agencies approve the vaccines, the White House expects that the first shots could be administered as soon as late June. Federal officials plan to send out 10 million doses initially, with millions of additional doses made available in the coming weeks. The vaccines will be distributed in physician offices, pharmacies, schools and libraries.
Adult Omicron Booster Shots: Moderna announced that it will be submitting data to the FDA on an Omicron-specific booster shot. The company’s data shows that the Omicron-specific booster produces a stronger immune reaction than their original booster. No safety concerns were reported, and trial participants experienced similar side effects to prior shots. Pfizer hopes that the booster will be available in the late summer.
HHS Funds for Covid Shots: The Biden administration will scale back several health programs in an effort to provide enough money to buy next-generation of Covid-19 vaccines. Congress has stalled in enacting the White House’s requests for new funding for vaccines to boost protection against the COVID-19, treatment, and diagnostic tools. That’s left US pandemic-response leaders to scale back other Health and Human Services programs to buy new supplies to meet pandemic needs. The administration is allocating $5 billion to support the purchase of new Covid-19 vaccine doses for a fall immunization campaign. It will use another $4.9 billion to procure roughly 10 million courses of Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid pill to treat COVID-19.
California: The state could become the first state to explicitly protect abortion rights in the state constitution if a Senate bill introduced Wednesday clears the legislature before the end of the month. Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 would place the issue on the November 2022 ballot asking voters to protect the right to an abortion and contraceptives.
Michigan: The Republican-led legislature this week asked a state judge to allow a 1931 abortion ban to take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Michigan’s pre-Roe statute would expose health care professionals in the state to felony charges and fines for performing an abortion except to save the life of the patient. It also would criminalize advertising or selling medications to induce an abortion.
Wisconsin: Democratic Governor Evers called a special session for the Republican-controlled legislature to repeal the state’s dormant 173-year-old law banning abortion. Republican Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu said the Senate would not take any action on the legislation in what he called “another blatantly political special session call from this partisan governor.”