Trump reverses on request to cut CDC, NIAID funding

Trump reverses on request to cut CDC, NIAID funding
© Greg Nash

After weeks of criticism, the Trump administration has reversed course on its request to cut funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in its 2021 budget.

"This FY 2021 Budget amendment increases funding for CDC to ensure that the Agency has the resources beginning October 1, 2020, to continue its critical public health mission," White House Budget Chief Russ Vought wrote to Congress in a letter dated Tuesday.

Just last week, Vought doubled down on the administration's request to cut health funds in the 2021 budget, telling a House Appropriations subcommittee that "no, I’m not sending up a budget amendment.”

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The administration had proposed cutting $1.2 billion from the CDC and $451 million from NIAID as compared to current funding.

In his Tuesday letter, Vought sought to increase CDC funding to $8.3 billion, about $100 million more than current levels, as well as a $440 million increase to the NIAID, a touch below current funding levels.

NIAID head Dr. Anthony Fauci, a career expert, has become one of the administration's most trusted spokesmen on the coronavirus.

Congress has largely ignored Trump's proposed annual cuts to a slew of government agencies and programs, and appeared set to dismiss the budget proposal, which itself abrogated a spending deal reached with Congressional Democrats last summer.

Vought's letter also asked Congress for an additional $45.8 billion to address the coronavirus pandemic, a significant increase over the $2.5 billion it requested a few weeks ago and the $8.3 billion Congress passed in its first of three expected bills responding to the plague.