Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 CDC Budget Request

2020-03-10 10:15

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

I thank Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole for holding this hearing.  Dr. Redfield and the distinguished panelists, thank you for joining us.

First, Dr. Redfield, I want to thank you for meeting with me last week.  We spent more than an hour together and I appreciate your commitment and your expertise. 

Two short weeks ago, I planned to raise the Trump budget’s continued neglect of CDC, its backward and misguided recommendations to cut chronic health resources, and the harsh impact on health outcomes of Americans.

After working for more than two decades to restart federal investments in gun violence prevention research, I was eager to discuss the types of research that may be funded. We would like to hear about progress on other important investments in the Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill, including a new data modernization initiative, child sexual abuse prevention research, and combating the epidemic of youth vaping.

But unfortunately, we have a new epidemic on our hands. 

One week ago, my home county of Westchester, New York, had its first confirmed coronavirus case; today we have 98, with a total of 142 throughout New York State and more than 700 nationwide, including, tragically, 26 deaths.  This stunning increase requires every level of government to work together and aggressively to contain and stop the spread of Covid-19. 

With the recently enacted $8.3 billion emergency supplemental, the federal government can aid state and local health departments in assisting patients and mitigate the extent of the virus. 

However, due to the Administration’s failure to treat this threat seriously, initial faulty test kits, the Administration’s slow approvals for laboratories, and slow distribution of working kits, more people are likely to be infected.

It is imperative that the federal government have a multi-agency approach to ensure tests are available for all who may need one without delay.  Earlier this week, I sent a letter to Secretary Azar, Commissioner Hahn, and yourself, urging you to use all powers at your disposal to quickly approve qualified labs in New York, including hospitals, private labs, and other state facilities, and to permit both automated and manual processing. 

There are labs in New York awaiting approval that could greatly expand testing capacity by thousands per day – as may be the case throughout the country - if only the federal government would get off the sidelines and approve these facilities.

As Covid-19 comes closer to pandemic status, we must do all we can to protect the public.  I look forward to our discussion.  Thank you.


116th Congress