The current director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, is vocally opposed to a proposed piece of legislation that would mandate Senate confirmation for CDC directors in the future.
This week, though, Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina rightfully made it quite obvious that it does not matter what she thinks.
What She Wants
Walensky is urging Congress to amend the PREVENT Pandemics Act, a piece of legislation supported by members of both parties. It has a chance of being enacted during this month’s lame-duck session.
I went to the Senate floor today to urge my colleagues to pass my bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act with @SenatorBurr. Our country was not ready for the COVID-19 pandemic—that much is crystal clear. We've got to make sure we never find ourselves in that same situation again. pic.twitter.com/LaavgcT5Ze
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) December 9, 2022
According to Roll Call, one of her concerns with the plan is a clause that, if enacted, would turn the position of CDC director into a government post that requires the approval of the United States Senate. Should it become law, it would initially have an effect on her successor.
Walensky told the media outlet that one could reasonably assume, especially given the radicalization of the CDC at the time, that this could have taken a genuinely long time.
However, Burr, the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Healthcare, Education, Labor, and Retirement benefits, does not care what Walensky believes.
Senators Patty Murray and Richard Burr introduced on Wednesday the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act): https://t.co/ny0HsRyBG1
— KOMO News (@komonews) March 10, 2022
When Walensky voiced her worry, Burr responded, “Tough s**t. We need to overhaul the CDC as soon as possible. This is a trivial issue in comparison to what we should accomplish.”
The clause was also defended by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who is the head of the committee.
A representative for Murray stated to Roll Call the provision that requires the director of the CDC to be confirmed by the Senate would not affect the sitting director of the CDC.
Moving forward, it would just appoint the director of the CDC, like other key roles at the department, which already were confirmed by the Senate.
Not only does Walensky advocate against making the job of CDC director a position that requires confirmation by the Senate, but she also encourages Congress to give the CDC more authority to gather data.
The Biden administration persistently extended the public health crisis that was declared due to COVID-19. Though there will come a day when it will no longer be valid.
In the event that it does, Roll Call highlighted the CDC has the ability to continue to ask states for statistics on monitoring, testing, hospitalizations, and fatalities for a set amount of time after the crisis has passed. It does not have the power to continue doing so indefinitely.
As a result, Walensky claims she desires that Congress expand the CDC’s data-collection capabilities; of course, she swears she does this with the intention of better educating the general public.
She claimed if they do not receive surveillance data and testing data at the rate they have been obtaining it and at the level of openness they have been getting, then it is possible they will not be able to report on the aforementioned types of matters.
When she said this, she was talking about the effect COVID had on the community.This article appeared in NewsHouse and has been published here with permission.