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Campaign Week in Review: Clinton Proposes Emergency Fund for Public Health Crises

Ally Boguhn

The former secretary of state called for greater investment in public health related infrastructure, including improving the capacity of public health departments, and ensuring that resources are provided to state and local governments to address “multi-faceted public health threats,” such as climate change.

This week on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proposed launching a new public health fund, and gave a speech criticizing Donald Trump for allowing a fringe group to have “effectively taken over the Republican Party.”

Clinton Proposes Rapid Response Fund in Light of Zika Concerns

Clinton released a proposal Wednesday for a new fund to offer rapid health-care response amid growing concerns over the spread of the Zika virus.

The Public Health Rapid Response Fund would through “year-to-year budgets … better enable the CDC, HHS, FEMA, state and local public health departments, hospital systems, and other federal agencies to quickly and aggressively respond to major public health crises and pandemics,” according to a statement from Clinton posted to her campaign’s website.

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Clinton criticized congressional inaction in funding efforts to address the spread of Zika. “Doctors and public health experts have been warning for months that the Zika virus was likely to reach the continental United States, but Congress has failed to pass the President’s emergency funding request,” Clinton’s statement said. “As a result, the Zika virus has gained a foothold in Miami, and 196 people have already been infected in the city—infections that may have been preventable.”

The former secretary of state called for greater investment in public health related infrastructure, including improving the capacity of public health departments, and ensuring that resources are provided to state and local governments to address “multi-faceted public health threats,” such as climate change.

A permanent fund to fight crises like the spread of Zika already exists, according to a report from NPR, though it has little funding.

The fund was created by Congress in 1983, with an initial appropriation of $30 million. The law says if the secretary of Health and Human Services declares a health emergency and draws from the fund, Congress is authorized to bring it back up to $30 million each year. Problem is, after the first year, Congress only put money back into the emergency piggy bank twice, in 1987 and again in 1993 in response to the outbreak of hantavirus in the West.

The fund was reauthorized by Congress in 1990 with the balance raised to $45 million, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service, but it since has been abandoned. Today the fund has $57,000 in it, according to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in February re-introduced a measure to provide that fund, the Public Health Emergency Fund, with $5 billion.

“As we fight the second major public health emergency in two years, first Ebola and now the Zika virus, having resources in the emergency fund is essential to enacting an effective response strategy,” DeLauro said in a statement on the legislation. “Rather than waiting for money to be requested, and then having a debate in Congress on funding, we should allocate resources ahead of time in order to more successfully fight the spread of disease and save lives.”

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a measure in July that would “create a permanent fund to allow quick and effective responses to future public health emergencies.”

Some Republicans in the House have backed the creation of a $300 million emergency fund to address public health crises.

Clinton: “De Facto Merger” Between Breitbart and Trump Is “A Landmark Achievement for the Alt-Right”

Clinton on Thursday criticized Trump’s rhetoric and his recent hire of a conservative media figure.

“Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election,” Clinton told the crowd at a rally in Reno, Nevada. “And I understand that concern, because it’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for president of the United States from one of our two major parties.”

“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party,” she continued. “His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.”

Discussing the recent hire by the Trump campaign of Breitbart.com’s Stephen Bannon as CEO, Clinton pointed to some of the headlines published by the conservative news site such as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy,” “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage,” and “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” 

“Just imagine,” Clinton said, “Donald Trump reading that and thinking, ‘This is what I need more of in my campaign.’”

“The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for the alt-right,” Clinton continued. “A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party.”

Clinton’s campaign released a background report that same day titled “Donald Trump: Mainstreaming a Hate Movement,” which explained that the so-called alt-right “is a term used by the extreme fringe of the conservative movement to conceal a set of views that can be variously described as bigoted, intolerant, racist, white nationalist, and anti-women.” 

Bannon, CEO of Trump’s campaign, has lauded Breitbart as “the platform for the alt-right” under his leadership.

Just prior to Clinton taking the stage, Trump gave a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he tried to preempt his Democratic rival’s message.

“The news reports are that Hillary Clinton is going to try and accuse this campaign and all of you and the millions of decent Americans … who support this campaign, your campaign, of being racist,” Trump said. “Which we’re not.”

“It’s the oldest play in the Democratic playbook,” he said. “When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument: ‘You’re racist.’”

“It’s a tired, disgusting argument and it’s so totally predictable,” Trump continued.

Trump accused Clinton of being a “bigot” the day prior while speaking at a rally in Mississippi. When pressed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday to address whether he thought Clinton had “a hatred toward a particular group,” Trump continued to use the term.

What Else We’re Reading

Minnesota Republicans forgot to put Trump on the state’s ballot.

A private immigrant detention group last month gave $45,000 to a joint fundraising committee backing Trump.

Simon Moya-Smith made the case for why Clinton should stand with Native Americans opposing a pipeline in North Dakota.

The Trump campaign pushes the myth of widespread voter fraud, but the Republican nominee’s own campaign chief’s voter registration may be in “violation of crucial swing state’s election law requiring voters to be legal residents” of the county in which they register, according to the Guardian.

Slate reported on a universal health-care ballot measure in Colorado that, according to “some abortion rights advocates … would eliminate insurance coverage for abortion care for the more than 550,000 Colorado women of child-bearing age who can currently get low- or no-cost abortions under their private insurance plans.”

A review of public filings conducted by Mother Jones’ Pema Levy found few women held senior roles in Trump’s casinos, despite the Republican nominee’s past claims that women “are in my highest executive positions.”

The “unrelievedly dire picture [Donald Trump] has painted of Black America has left many Black voters angry, dumbfounded or both,” reported the New York Times.

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