U.S. laboratories that conduct sensitive research involving some of the most deadly diseases will not be regularly inspected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control because of the federal government shutdown that started Tuesday, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said in an article published Tuesday.
CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said Biosafety Level 3 and 4 facilities, which carry out research into highly dangerous diseases for which there are no or insufficient remedies, will not be routinely examined while most government functions are closed because of a congressional budget battle.
Because the dangers posed by diseases studied at these laboratories, CDC officials are supposed to regularly inspect them to make sure that all proper security and safety procedures are carried out to minimize the chances of an accidental release into the environment or theft by a bad actor of a pathogen.
Absent CDC inspections of BSL-3 and 4 laboratories, there is a higher chance of safety and security problems going undiscovered.
In 2012, it was learned that a CDC-operated BSL-3 laboratory in Atlanta had experienced numerous problems with technology intended to prevent disease particles from escaping into the air outside the research space. Though no pathogens were being handled during the period when the air-filtration technology was not working correctly, and thus were not at risk of escaping into the environment, the incident raised concerns about biosafety and about the appropriateness of the CDC inspecting itself.
Spending for the Strategic National Stockpile of weapons-of-mass-destruction medical countermeasures will not be impacted by the federal shutdown, according to the Health and Human Services Agency.
Much of the federal government ceased operations after midnight Monday, when fiscal 2014 started on Oct. 1, as Democrats in charge of the Senate and Republicans running the House remained at odds over a temporary budget to keep the government running. Democrats are refusing to heed the GOP’s attempts, in a House spending bill, to end or limit President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
House Republicans have introduced several different budget measures that call for continue funding at fiscal 2013 levels through Dec. 15 for politically sensitive and popular federal programs such as the National Institutes of Health, the Wall Street Journal reported. That strategy — intended to pressure Senate Democrats into accepting a broader spending bill that does not include funds for implementing the health-care law — will likely not go far, as the White House threatened to veto those piecemeal spending proposals if they reach Obama’s desk.
What We're Following See More »
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.