Senator Murphy: “You presented a briefing to members of the Senate three weeks ago in which many of us expressed alarm that the administration had not sent a supplemental request to Congress at the outset of this epidemic.”
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy on Tuesday questioned U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar on the Trump Administration’s novel coronavirus response.
Murphy questioned Azar during a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The President’s FY 2021 proposes to cut the HHS budget by 10 percent, including a 16 percent cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a seven percent cut to the National Institutes of Health. This hearing comes the day after the Trump administration requested a non-specific emergency supplemental funding request to combat the coronavirus epidemic that by all accounts is a fraction of what the U.S. will need to appropriately respond to this crisis.
Calling the supplemental emergency funding request last night “too little, too late,” Murphy said: “You presented a briefing to members of the Senate three weeks ago in which many of us expressed alarm that the administration had not sent a supplemental request to Congress at the outset of this epidemic. We were told in that briefing that the administration believed that it had ample existing resources to handle this epidemic—that didn’t make sense to many of us who saw what was coming. Last night, you sent word that you are now requesting that supplemental funding, and we are hopeful to get some meat put on the bones so that we can get to work very quickly. That was a mistake, now, in retrospect to not request that funding weeks ago at the beginning of this pandemic, correct?”
“We cannot continue to close our eyes to these developing pandemics. We are going to have to be partnering with many other countries. And under this administration, unfortunately, we’re going the wrong way. We are operating in less countries abroad, not more countries, but I will appreciate hearing the more detailed information from you in the coming days,” Murphy continued.
Murphy slammed the Trump administration’s recent emergency funding request to protect from the coronavirus epidemic that was sent to Congress last night. Earlier this month, Murphy blasted the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Murphy also signed onto a letter with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) urging the FDA to ensure the safety and supply of pharmaceuticals, food and medical supplies amid the growing epidemic. Murphy also joined other senators in pressing the Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response.