Associated Press fact-checkers said former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg painted "a distorted picture" of "federal infectious-disease bureaucracy as rudderless and ill-prepared for the coronavirus threat," saying the two presidential candidates were "both wrong" to say President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The AP examined comments made by the pair at Tuesday night's debate in South Carolina.
Biden claimed that Trump had wiped out hikes in spending for the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) with his budget.
“[The Obama administration] increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget," Biden stated during the debate. "He’s wiped all that out ... He cut the funding for the entire effort."
Bloomberg said Trump had defunded the CDC.
“There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing," he said at the debate. "And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing."
The AP pushed back on the claims, saying it was wrong to say the agencies had seen cuts.
"Bloomberg is repeating the false allegation in a new ad that states the U.S. is unprepared for the virus because of 'reckless cuts' to the CDC," it stated.
They noted that while Trump has proposed cuts to the CDC and NIH, Congress has not approved those reductions. In fact, Congress has increased funding.
"Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH," it said. "Instead, financing has increased.
"Indeed, the money that government disease detectives first tapped to fight the latest outbreak was a congressional fund created for health emergencies."
Biden and Bloomberg are battling for support ahead of the Super Tuesday slate of contests on March 3. They and other Democrats in Congress and in the presidential contest have blasted Trump's handling of the coronavirus.