With the partial government shutdown stretching into its 11th day, a series of individual measures have been introduced in the US House of Representatives to fund certain key government functions, but some public health groups are lining up to oppose the efforts.
The developments are playing out against the backdrop of a multistate Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to raw chicken produced by Foster Farms facilities in California, which prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to call back some of its furloughed workers to help track the outbreak.
The Republican-led House of Representatives, largely along party lines, has passed about a dozen bills, called "mini appropriations," to fund some government agency functions. For example, on Oct 2 the House passed a bill (H.J. Res 73) to fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the middle of December. And on Oct 7 it passed a similar bill (H.J. Res 77) to fund the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, Senate Democrats and President Obama have rejected the efforts and have argued that the individual funding bills are an attempt to reduce the pressure on Republicans to resolve the shutdown.
Yesterday, Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a public health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, said it opposes a "mini continuing resolution" that has been proposed to fund the CDC. Jeffrey Levi, PhD, TFAH's executive director, said in a statement yesterday that the proposed funding bill doesn't comprehensively address the nation's critical public health needs.
"While it is encouraging that there is an acknowledgement of the importance of CDC, it is naive to think that piecemeal support can adequately protect the nation's health," he said.
TFAH said the CDC is one of several government agencies that play a role in protecting the nation's health. It noted that last week the CDC recalled 30 workers to assist in its response to the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak. "But an effective response requires a broader network of experts at CDC, FDA and the USDA [Department of Agriculture] along with coordination with state and local agencies."