An Associated Press fact check on Thursday, Feb. 27, confirmed that leading Democrat presidential candidates are falsely claiming that President Donald Trump cut resources needed to address the coronavirus.
According to the AP, both Former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg have given a “distorted picture” of the Trump administration’s readiness to stem the outbreak by claiming that President Trump “defunded” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. 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,” Bloomberg said.
Biden made a similar statement, accusing President Trump of reversing the Obama administration’s budget increases to those agencies.
“We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort,” he said.
However, their claims were not true. The president’s proposed budget cuts never took effect and funding to fight the latest outbreak also came from a congressional fund created for health emergencies.
“Some public health experts say a bigger concern than White House budgets is the steady erosion of a CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness—the front lines in detecting and battling new disease. But that decline was set in motion by a congressional budget measure that predates Trump,” wrote the AP.
The fact check came as Democrats are pouring criticism over the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus which, has infected 60 Americans—most are former passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
The Trump administration issued early measures in January in an effort to contain the virus spread in the United States by convening a task force that included leading experts on infectious diseases, immediately restricting incoming visitors from China, and declaring a public health emergency.
This week, it sent a $2.5 billion emergency funding request to the U.S. Congress, only for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to claim that is “too little, too late” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to describe the request as “completely inadequate.”
“She wants to do the same thing with cryin’ Chuck Schumer. He goes out and he says the president only asked for $2.5 billion, he should have $8.5 billion. This is the first time I’ve ever been told that we should take more. Usually, it’s we have to take less,” President Trump fired back.
But after a closed-door briefing on the virus on Tuesday, Senate Republicans said they are satisfied with the administration’s handling of the issue.
“The administration is on top of this,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is also a medical doctor. “They’re adapting as they need to, trying to allocate resources where they’re most effective.”
Cassidy noted that depending on how the situation evolves, additional funding can be added to the continuing resolution that lawmakers anticipate will fund the government as well as the 2021 budget request that is also being negotiated.
“Let’s see how it evolves and then we can easily put more dollars in,” he said.