PALATE CLEANSER: Please Enjoy Sen. Burr's Response to CDC Director Walensky's Concern Next Agency Head Be Senate Confirmed

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

In trying to find something uplifting to share in this space — and that kind of news is depressingly hard to come by these days — a tweet went out from X Strategies senior digital strategist Greg Price (no stranger to controversy himself) that fit the bill.


Please enjoy.

Walensky, who has lately been ringing the mask warning bell again because she fears winter COVID and the newest boogeyman RSV, is really in need of funding for her agency and better access to data reporting from states, she says. And those dastardly Republicans are just not heeding her warnings.

this is the fourth time the White House has sent an emergency COVID-19 funding request to Congress this year. Lawmakers, especially Republicans, are refusing to include any more COVID-19 funding in an end-of-year government funding bill, and prospects for data authority also look slim.

When both Democratic and Republican members tanked a $15 billion funding request in March, the White House re-purposed funds and paused a program to get free testing kits to Americans. When the GOP blocked a $22.4 billion request for COVID-19 and mpox in the September short-term spending law, the CDC reallocated funds from other agency programs.

Then, last week, Energy and Commerce Republicans chastised the administration for using $475 million in Provider Relief Fund dollars for a COVID-19 vaccine campaign.

Now Walensky says the CDC is running out of money to shuffle around.


Walensky is also hampered, it seems, by an inability to read the room. Americans are suffering from pandemic exhaustion. And Walensky’s agency, like much of the public health sector, arguably has only themselves and their confusing and draconian COVID response to blame. A new Axios-Ipsos poll shows people just want to be left alone to fight off whatever illness comes their way. They’re tired of being encouraged to worry it would seem.

Heading into the 2022 holidays, Americans may be worrying about prices or the inevitable family fight about politics, but few of them are worried about COVID-19. The Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus index shows that with just over a third seeing contracting COVID-19 as a large or moderate risk, most Americans appear to be including the virus in their daily calculus and moving on. Indeed, Half of Americans say they have already returned to pre-COVID routines while only a third report wearing a mask some or all of the time when leaving the home.

But leave it to one of the architects of the public exhaustion to miss the shift entirely and complain that, not only is the agency perilously low on funds, they also are unable to unilaterally access the data they need to scare the hell out of everyone again. What a shame.


“If we don’t get surveillance data, testing data, at the pace that we have been getting it, at the transparency that we’ve been getting, we may not be able to report on those sorts of things,” Walensky said, noting the lack of data flow also could prevent the CDC from churning out long COVID studies.

So now the agency is hoping Congress will help the agency access the data it needs.

She said many lawmakers aren’t aware that the agency cannot just collect the data as it would like.

“People have no idea we didn’t have the authorities,” she said.

At issue is a new bill called the PREVENT Pandemics Act, sponsored by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and ranking GOP member Richard M. Burr (R-NC), which includes data sharing incentives toward future pandemic responses, but not enough authority for the CDC to collect it.

She also voiced concerns about the bill’s requirement for Senate confirmation of future CDC directors, pointing to the delay in getting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf confirmed.

“One could imagine, especially with the politicization of CDC at the time, that that could have taken a really long time,” she said.

“Tough shit,” Burr said. “We desperately need to reform CDC,” he added. “This is minor compared to what we should do.”


After Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) brilliant response this week to Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen regarding that company’s termination of employees for refusing to wear a rainbow flag apron they deemed against their religious convictions (Cotton’s basic retort was that it was insulting for Kroger to silence conservative voices and then come to Republicans asking for regulatory support), Burr just gave conservatives another reason to believe their members on the Hill are at least in the fight.


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