Congressional Science Policy Initiative

Committee hearing resource | House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

                                                      Source: House Appropriations Committee

Send in your questions to help Congress assess the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Engage, and take action! If you have a question or idea you think lawmakers should raise with witnesses during this hearing, or you would like to be a part of FAS’ community to contribute your expertise, kindly scroll down and submit via the form below. Or scroll down to learn more about the issues.

Tragically, the U.S. has surpassed 475,000 deaths from COVID-19 as the country continues to grapple with the pandemic. The federal agency leading the response to COVID-19 is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Here’s your chance to suggest questions that Members of Congress could ask the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and the CDC principal deputy director, Dr. Anne Schuchat.

On Tuesday, February 23rd, the House Appropriations Committee is holding a public briefing to question the CDC’s leaders, and the Committee wants to hear your thoughts on vaccine distribution, the risks posed by coronavirus variants, potential COVID-19 treatments, measures that should be taken to protect the population, or science-driven public health guidance, among other issues relevant to the CDC.

This website gives you an opportunity to tell Congress what issues should be discussed during this key briefing. You can submit questions that lawmakers should ask the witnesses (sample questions below), personal stories about your experiences related to this issue, or your general thoughts on how Congress can address this issue.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies briefing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the COVID-19 pandemic
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 10am ET
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Evidence-based sample questions lawmakers could ask witnesses. Please share yours for lawmakers.

More sample questions will be added as objective contributions are received from the expert community. Kindly submit your idea via the form below. Last updated Wednesday 2/17/2021.

Medical-grade N95 respirator masks for health care workers

Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that “many millions of [medical-grade] N95 [respirator] masks are pouring out of American factories and heading into storage.” While some hospitals have returned to pre-pandemic, one-per-patient N95 mask usage, most are rationing one N95 mask a day, or fewer, to each employee.

“Many hospital procurement officers say they are relying on CDC guidelines for depleted supplies, even if their own stockpiles are robust.”

Please describe what the CDC is doing to help sure-up the logistics regarding N95 respirator masks, coordinate supply chains, and provide hospitals with clear guidance about managing N95 respirator mask usage.

Coordinating state and federal vaccination efforts

There is significant confusion around how the states and federal government are distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Each state has developed a different COVID-19 vaccination plan and their effectiveness varies widely. For example, North Dakota has used 85 percent of the doses it has received for inoculation, while Virginia has only used 43 percent.

In addition, several governors have sent a letter to the federal government asking for clarification of its efforts to coordinate the distribution of vaccines. This confusion could lead to vulnerable populations being overlooked or left behind in this process.

What needs to be done to better coordinate the federal vaccination program with the states’ efforts, and reduce the burden on people in the US who are trying to access COVID-19 vaccines amidst this confusion?

Organizing the distribution of shots of potential booster vaccines

New variants of the coronavirus have emerged that “seem to spread more easily and quickly.”

If it is determined that booster vaccines are necessary to address variants, how would the CDC help the boosters be distributed in a more organized and efficient manner than the rollout of the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines?

Best practices at COVID-19 testing sites

COVID-19 testing sites can bring many people from different households into the same space. In addition, nasal swab and saliva-based testing requires individuals to take off their masks for a period of time and risk some potential spread of the virus.

What policies should testing sites follow to limit the spread of COVID-19? What can be done to make the rules clear for those getting tested?

COVID-19 vaccines for type 1 diabetics

Studies have found that when ill with COVID-19, type 1 diabetics face an increased risk for greater disease severity, in-hospital death, and need for critical care.

Why are type 1 diabetics not included in the “medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19” category for vaccination prioritization? Please explain.

Your question could be here!

Your question could be here!

Nonpartisan analysis and research

Quick reads

Vaccine Distribution, Supply Chain, Testing Still Present Challenges in Federal Pandemic Response – GAO Watchblog post

COVID-19 Vaccines and the Lessons Learned from H1N1 – GAO Watchblog post

Continued Surge in COVID Cases Highlights Need for Urgent Federal Action – GAO Watchblog post

How Can the Federal Government Strengthen Its Response to COVID-19? – GAO Watchblog post

The $400 Question: Financial Insecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic – CRS Insight brief

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements: Potential Constraints on Employer Mandates Under Federal Law – CRS Legal Sidebar brief

COVID-19 Vaccine Doses: Selected Data Sources on Allocation, Distribution, and Administration – CRS Insight brief

Deep dives

Critical Vaccine Distribution, Supply Chain, Program Integrity, and Other Challenges Require Focused Federal Attention – GAO report

Urgent Actions Needed to Better Ensure an Effective Federal Response – GAO report

Accelerated COVID-19 Vaccine Development Status and Efforts to Address Manufacturing Challenges – GAO report

Federal Efforts Could Be Strengthened by Timely and Concerted Actions – GAO report

Unemployment Rates During the COVID-19 Pandemic: In Brief – CRS report

COVID-19 Relief Assistance to Small Businesses: Issues and Policy Options – CRS report

Global Economic Effects of COVID-19 – CRS report

Supplemental resources

Press clips

COVID-19 Cases Are Dropping Fast. Why? – The Atlantic piece

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? – USA Today piece

How soon will COVID-19 vaccines return life to normal? – Science piece

Biden suggests vaccines will be available for every American ‘by the end of July’ – New York Times piece

Lowering COVID-19 cases is the best thing U.S. can do to improve chances that vaccines will continue working, expert says – CNN piece

Congressional correspondence

Letter from Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) to Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on removing COVID-19 misinformation from Facebook

Letter from Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA) and the Massachusetts Delegation urging the Secretary-Designate of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough to address COVID-19’s effects on VA operations and veterans’ medical appointments

Letter from Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and his colleagues to House and Senate leadership urging they include a funding increase for nutrition programs in the upcoming COVID-19 relief bill

Bipartisan bills

Protecting Patient Access to Lifesaving COVID-19 Drugs Act of 2021, H.R.467

Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2021, H.R.366

To authorize grants to address substance use during COVID-19, H.R.706

A bill to require a longitudinal study on the impact of COVID-19, S.176

To establish the Office of COVID-19 Supply Chain Resiliency, and for other purposes, H.R.1024

Science. Policy. Service. Progress.

The Congressional Science Policy Initiative (CSPI) is a nonpartisan effort to facilitate the engagement of scientists, engineers, technologists, and other experts with the US Legislative Branch to help produce evidence-based public policy.

If you have expertise in a data-driven discipline, join hundreds of specialists who are already taking action to provide critical information to Congress as part of the CSPI community.