Here's the scoop on what's happening this week in Congress
NCSD Policy Staff
May 20, 2022
Dear Colleague Letter on STDs
A Dear Colleague letter spearheaded by David Cicilline (D-RI-01) and signed by 30 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives was sent to Chair Rosa DeLauro and Ranking Member Kay Granger, of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. The letter requests that the FY’23 funding for the STD program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention be funded at $279 million, an increase of $115 million over the FY’22 funding level. The letter also requested one-time funding of $50 million to move the grant year from January to July to ensure a more efficient use of funds and lessen administrative burdens. The letter can be found here: FY23 CDC STD Prevention Letter Final
On May 19, the Senate, by vote of 86-11, passed a $40 billion emergency aid package to provide weapons and other military help to Ukraine. Top lawmakers in both parties insist the multibillion-dollar injection is just what Ukraine needs to bolster its defenses as Russia approaches its fourth month of conflict.
This week the House passed a supplemental appropriations bill to help ease the baby formula crisis. The bill (HR 7790) totals $28 million, and would increase the FDA’s infant formula safety and inspection capabilities. When the Senate plans to take up the legislation is unclear. The bill would require 60 votes for passage in the Senate.
The House and Senate also passed separate legislation (HR 7791) to ease the shortage’s impact on low-income families that rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. The bill is on its way to the President for signature.
This week, President Biden invoked emergency powers under the Defense Production Act to boost production of baby formula, while ordering the use of government planes for imports to alleviate shortages. The administration said that the move would allow domestic manufacturers to obtain needed ingredients and speed shipments of foreign stocks.
Other Legislation and Happenings Around the Nation
Oklahoma: This week, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill that would ban abortions from the moment of “fertilization,” effectively prohibiting almost all abortions in the state. If signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), it would be the strictest prohibition in the country.
Kentucky: On May 19, 2022, a federal judge extended an order blocking key portions of a new Kentucky abortion law that had forced the state’s two clinics to temporarily halt abortions. The ruling said that the law’s 15-week ban on abortions would remain blocked until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a related abortion case in Mississippi.
In Massachusetts, a man was diagnosed with the monkeypox virus, the first confirmed case of the rare disease in the US. Officials believe the case does not currently pose a risk to the public. Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that typically causes flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes. In the UK, the most recent cases have been in men who have sex with men. Health officials are urging men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact their physician. Though monkeypox is not usually known to be sexually transmitted, it can be passed through close, personal contact, including during sexual activity, and via the clothing and linens that have been used by a person with monkeypox. In 2019, the FDA approved the first vaccine for monkeypox, which also protects against smallpox.
Children’s Vaccine Campaign
This week, Department of Health and Human Services launched a campaign with the National Parent Teacher Association aimed at encouraging parents to get their young children vaccinated. The new PTA initiative is part of the HHS’s broader “We Can Do This” campaign, which has also targeted grassroots outreach among Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The effort comes after this week’s announcement that the FDA granted emergency use authorization for a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 5–11. The CDC also recommended a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.
Federal health officials are urging areas hardest by COVID-19 to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. About a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
An internal CDC review focused on the agency’s data collection and analysis capabilities seems to have found major gaps in the organization’s ability to efficiently and effectively collect, analyze, and disseminate data. The results of this review will likely be released to the public in the coming weeks. The review was initiated in response to criticism faced by the agency around its ability to track and respond to COVID-19 data in real time.
This week the Federal government started taking orders for a third round of Covid-19 test kits to be mailed to any U.S. household. According to the HHS website, all U.S. households are eligible to order a third round of tests. Each order now contains eight rapid antigen tests. Previously, four tests were sent out at a time.