Washington, DC Update

Posted 11 April 2023

ASTMH continues to advocate before Congress and the Biden administration. Letters that ASTMH led or joined include:
  • A letter to House and Senate appropriators urging for increased funding to address vector-borne diseases at the CDC in FY2024.
  • A letter to House and Senate appropriators urging for robust funding for the Data Modernization Initiative at the CDC in FY2024.
  • Letters to House appropriators urging increased funding for domestic and global antimicrobial resistance programs in FY2024.
  • A letter to House appropriators requesting robust funding for the CDC’s Division of Parasitic Disease and Malaria and NIH’s Fogarty International Center in FY2024.
  • A letter to House appropriators urging for robust funding for the CDC’s Advanced Molecular Detection program in FY2024.
  • A letter to House and Senate appropriators urging for strong funding for the CDC in FY2024.
  • Letters to House and Senate appropriators urging for strong funding for global health research across various federal programs in FY2024.
  • A letter to nominee for president of the World Bank Ajay Banga emphasizing global health finance priorities.
  • A welcome letter to the CDC’s new National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID) Director Daniel Jernigan.
  • A welcome letter to Africa CDC’s new Director General Jean Kaseya.

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Rep. Miller-Meeks Releases RFI to Reform CDC
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) recently issued a request for information (RFI) targeting healthcare stakeholders that seeks “insights and perspective to inform Congressional efforts to reform and improve upon the CDC.” The RFI solicits feedback from a broad set of categories including, but not limited to Mission Creep, Leadership Structure and “Moving Forward” Reorganization, Good Guidance Practices, Data and Surveillance, CDC Authorization and CDC Foundation Mission and Purpose. In the letter, Meek’s states that the goal of the RFI is to “ensure a productive discussion and examination regarding the inadequacies and failures of the CDC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to better prevent, prepare for and respond to future public health threats.” All responses are due by April 23.

Various Global Health-Related Hearings on Budget Requests Held
Over the past few weeks, House and Senate appropriations subcommittees have held various hearings on the President’s Budget Request (PBR) for FY2024. On March 22, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken testified on the proposed State Department budget before the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Program. In the hearing, Chairman Chris Coons (D-DE) and Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed their support for increased funding for the State Department. In his testimony, Secretary Blinken highlighted various global health-related priorities, including disease surveillance, PEPFAR and the new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy.
On the same day, Department of Health and Human Secretary Xavier Becerra testified on the proposed HHS budget before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Committee Chairwoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) expressed her support of the budget request, specifically additional investments in vaccine preparedness, medical countermeasure development, global disease surveillance and support for biomedical R&D. While Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) was overall critical of the PBR, she did express support for the budget’s focus on biomedical research, particularly investment in the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health.

President Biden Signs COVID-19 Declassification Bill
On March 20, President Biden enacted a bipartisan bill requiring the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information regarding the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, known as the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, passed the House and Senate unanimously. “My administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” President Biden said in response to the bill. “In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.”
OSTP Reports on U.S. Biotech and Biomanufacturing Goals, Impacting Global Health R&D
As mandated by a September Executive Order, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released a report outlining the administration’s goals for advancing American biotechnology and biomanufacturing. The report contains five sections, including a section dedicated to using R&D to advance human health. OSTP will be tasked with developing an implementation plan to address R&D needs outlined in the report.