The Biden administration has asked congress for nearly $5 billion in funding to combat the monkeypox outbreak as part of a broader $47 billion funding package that would also provide money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, military and economic support for Ukraine, and natural disaster relief in Kentucky and elsewhere.
The administration is seeking a total of $4.5 billion for the monkeypox fight, including $3.9 billion for vaccinations, testing, treatment, and operational support as well as another $600 million to fight the outbreak globally. More than 1.1 million monkeypox vaccines have been distributed, which has depleted the national stockpile, the White House said. Additional funding is needed to combat the current outbreak and prevent future outbreaks of both monkeypox and smallpox.
The Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, which is led by out members of Congress, welcomed the monkeypox funding request and urged federal lawmakers to swiftly approve the allocation.
“With this funding request, the Biden administration took an important step in addressing the monkeypox outbreak,” Equality Caucus Chair David Cicilline said in a written statement. “Congress has a duty to treat monkeypox as the public health emergency that it is and provide the resources to combat its spread. I look forward to working with my colleagues to appropriate these and any other necessary funds to address the monkeypox outbreak, prioritize our public health infrastructure, and protect the American people.”
The funding announcement came approximately one week after the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus delivered a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Disease Control director Rochelle Walensky asking the administration to include monkeypox funding in the next budget allocation.
In the August 23 letter to the White House, lawmakers called on the government to provide financial assistance to support health departments on the front lines, purchase and administer sufficient vaccine supply, carry out public education campaigns to spread awareness, improve testing capacity, and offer wraparound services for those who are required to isolate to protect others.
Of the $47 million requested by the government, the greatest share of funding — $22.4 million — would be allocated to COVID-19, while $13.7 billion would go towards Ukraine and $6.5 billion for natural disasters.
Federal agencies will need to replenish their funds by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown, according to the Associated Press.