No one among Senate Democrats reacted directly to Sinema’s posturing, but Sen. Joe Manchin pretty much went out of his way to make sure he is not associated with her.
That “keeping an open mind” and “respect for my colleagues” is pretty much a direct burn from Manchin. Since there are so few opportunities to actually say this, here’s the perfect time: “thank you, Joe Manchin.”
However, Senate Democrats already are talking about what can come out of that $3.5 trillion bill, and one potential cut, according to sources to The Hill, is remarkably stupid: fighting the next pandemic. They’re considering cutting it from the $30 billion the White House proposed to as little as $5 billion. While the nation is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 600,000 Americans, public health advocates are incensed at that suggestion.
While the sources for this story are anonymous, the alarm of these advocates seems to confirm it, and this obviously isn’t the first anyone has heard of the issue. They’ve been lobbying to make sure the full $30 billion is included. “We’ve been meeting with offices across the Hill to try and make sure they hear this message,” said Adriane Casalotti, chief of public and government affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “We don’t want to find ourselves unprepared for the next crisis.”
“It’s so stunning because if there was ever a teachable moment that we need to invest in public health, it is now,” Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Obama administration, told The Hill. “We will not have another moment like this in our lifetimes.”
Sen. Patty Murray is fighting for the full amount. She highlights polling from Data for Progress finding 71% of voters support the full $30 billion for pandemic preparedness. “Obviously that’s a critical funding pot; we’ll see where we get,” she told The Hill.