The Associated Press is calling out two leading Democratic presidential candidates for what the outlet says were inaccurate comments about the government's ability to address diseases like the coronavirus.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg were "both wrong" to say critical health agencies faced funding cuts. While discussing the coronavirus during Tuesday's debate, those candidates blamed President Trump for restricting resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing," Bloomberg said.
Biden similarly indicated Trump reversed the Obama-Biden administration's budget increases to those agencies.
“We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. ... He’s wiped all that out. ... He cut the funding for the entire effort," he said.
But according to the AP, Trump's proposed budget cuts never went into effect. Funding to fight the latest outbreak also came from a congressional fund created for health emergencies.
Some public health experts say a bigger concern than White House budgets is the steady erosion of a CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness — the front lines in detecting and battling new disease. But that decline was set in motion by a congressional budget measure that predates Trump.
The broader point about there being “nobody here” to coordinate the response sells short what’s in place to handle an outbreak.
Biden's and Bloomberg's campaigns didn't immediately respond to Fox News' requests for comment.
The fact check came as the administration criticized Democrats over their handling of the issue.
"She wants to do the same thing with cryin' Chuck Schumer. He goes out and he says the president only asked for $2.5 billion, he should have $8.5 billion. This is the first time I've ever been told that we should take more. Usually, it's we have to take less," Trump said.
The White House is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding and wants to transfer $535 million more from an Ebola preparedness account — a move opposed by Democrats. The administration anticipates shifting money from other Department of Health and Human Services accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.
On Thursday, Schumer and Pelosi issued a statement calling for additional action in response to the crisis -- warning that "lives are at stake -- this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.