Dem Presidential Candidates Call for Fully Funding CDC, NIH in Wake of Coronavirus Outbreak

By Melanie Arter | February 27, 2020 | 10:52am EST
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Democratic presidential candidates criticized President Donald Trump Tuesday for proposing cuts to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the midst of a global outbreak of the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on Jan. 30. Trump released his FY2021 budget request on Feb. 10.


During CBS’s Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was asked whether she would close U.S. borders to Americans exposed to the coronavirus to prevent an outbreak in this country.

Klobuchar criticized Trump for proposing cuts to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and “the international organization that would coordinate with the rest of the world.” 

She said she would “better coordinate” throughout her presidency to get ready for the next pandemic and “have better relations with our allies.” Furthermore, she said it’s important to invest in education, because the vaccine “is out there in the head of some kid right now in school, in Columbia, South Carolina, or Houston, Texas.”

Klobuchar: What we have to do is make sure that we have treatment for those Americans and that they are in a quarantine situation. We don't want to expose people, but we want to give them help. And I would agree, when mayor Bloomberg said that this president has not invested like he should have. In his budget, he tried to cut back on the CDC. He tried to cut back on the international organization that would coordinate with the rest of the world. He hasn't yet really addressed the nation on this topic. 

I would do all of that, but I want to take this out of politics right now and talk to the American people, because this is so serious. I'm not going to give my web site right now. I'm going to give the CDC.'s web site which is so that people keep checking in and they follow the rules and they realize what they have to do if they feel sick and they call their health care provider, because many doctors are saying it's just a matter of time before we're going to start seeing this here, and I think the answers as president, what would I do, I would better coordinate throughout my presidency to be ready for the next pandemic and to prepare for this one. I would have better relations with our allies and I would support, because I know the vaccine is out there in the head of some kid right now in school, in Columbia, South Carolina, or Houston, Texas, and it's investing in education, so we are ready to lead, again, in the world. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he was part of making sure that the Ebola virus didn’t get to the United States during the Obama administration, and he helped set up an office in the White House to deal with pandemic diseases.

“We reached a turning point today with the CDC warning schools that they must prepare that they might have to close. Members of the Trump administration saying we don't have enough medical masks if necessary. What would you do?” CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked Biden.

“What we did with Ebola, I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States, saved millions of lives. And what we did, we set up, I helped set up that office in the presidency, in the president's office on diseases that are pandemic diseases. We increased the budget of the CDC, we increased the NIH budget. Our president today, he's wiped all that out. We did it,” the former vice president said.


Biden: We stopped it, and the second thing I would point out to you is that what I would do immediately is restore the funding. He cut the funding for CDC. He tried to cut the funding for NIH. He cut the funding for the entire effort.

Here's the deal, I would be on the phone with China and making it clear, we are going to need to be in your country. You have to be open. You have to be clear. We have to know what's going on, we have to be there with you, and insist on it and insist, insist, insist. I could get that done. No one up here has ever dealt internationally with any of these world leaders. I'm the only one that has.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) mocked Trump - who he called “a self-described genius” - for predicting that the coronavirus will be over by April. Sanders called for fully funding the CDC, NIH, and expanding the World Health Organization (WHO).


SANDERS: In the White House today, we have a self-described great genius -- self-described -- and this great genius has told us that this coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined -- I wish I was kidding, that is what he said. What do we have to do?

Whether or not the issue is climate change, which is clearly a global crisis requiring international cooperation, or infectious diseases like coronavirus, requiring international cooperation. We have to work and expand the World Health Organization. Obviously, we have to make sure the CDC, the NIH, our infectious departments, are fully funded. This a global problem, we've got to work with countries all the over the world to solve it. 


Sanders was referring to remarks Trump made during a White House business session with the nation’s governors on Feb. 10.

“Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in.  Typically, that will go away in April.  We’re in great shape though.  We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now,” Trump said at the time.

The president also said he talked to Chinese President Xi Jinping and that Xi “feels very confident” that the virus will go away by April.

“I had a long talk with President Xi — for the people in this room — two nights ago, and he feels very confident.  He feels very confident.  And he feels that, again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus.  So that would be a good thing,” Trump said.


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