Sep 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Dems press for more monkeypox funding

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Senate Democrats are hoping to persuade their GOP colleagues to approve new funding to fight monkeypox, but several Republicans say the public health funding Congress has already provided should be enough.

Why it matters: The World Health Organization has labeled the outbreak a global health emergency, but limited vaccine supplies could undermine efforts to protect the most vulnerable people.

The big picture: America's public health infrastructure was disjointed and underfunded before the COVID pandemic, experts say.

  • Federal agencies are working to get enough vaccines for those most at risk from monkeypox, including by tapping into supplies of a smallpox vaccine. But the U.S. likely wouldn't have enough doses on hand if the outbreak grows significantly.

What we're watching: Democrats see a stopgap bill to keep the government open, as well as a FDA user-fee bill — both of which have to be passed by the end of the month — as the best vehicles for more funding.

  • Senior health officials, including Anthony Fauci and CDC director Rochelle Walensky, are set to testify about monkeypox today before the Senate health committee, and Democrats hope that hearing will help build a case for more resources.
  • Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the committee, said Democrats might be open to repurposing some COVID funding.
  • But some Republicans are skeptical.

What they're saying: "There's no funding problem," Sen. Richard Burr told Axios. "I suggest there's plenty of COVID money that's floating around the system that can be put toward that."

  • "There's ample revenue that's been provided to the to the administration to be able to deal with medical emergencies of this nature already," Sen. Mitt Romney said.

The other side: "Let's see if they come up with a $4 billion plan, and if not, maybe they'll come up with a $1 billion plan, but they're going to have to have a plan," Sen. Roy Blunt told Axios.

  • Sen. Susan Collins also didn't rule out additional public-health funding, telling Axios, she would "make a determination after" today's hearing.
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