Aides offered a range of options to lawmakers as Washington scrambles to mount a response to the new public health crisis

U.S. may need $7 billion for monkeypox, Biden administration estimates

The Biden administration privately estimated to Congress this month that it may need nearly $7 billion to mount a response to the nation’s monkeypox outbreak that matches “the scope and urgency of the current situation.” The funding estimate, the details of which were contained in a memo addressed to President Biden and obtained by The Washington Post, reflected early talks among congressional Democrats and White House officials in pursuit of a spending package that could boost the availability of monkeypox tests, vaccine doses and treatments.

The amount did not mark a formal request for aid to Congress. Rather, it was one of a series of options reflecting various amounts that could fund varying levels of federal mitigation efforts. White House aides recently presented the ideas at the request of Democratic leaders on the Senate’s top health-focused committee, according to the memo. A Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private conversations, confirmed the funding details to The Post The Biden administration also called for as much as $31.4 billion in new funds to combat the coronavirus pandemic, as it seeks to ensure the government has the resources necessary to purchase more treatments, testing and vaccines this year. The White House already had urged Congress repeatedly to approve another tranche of aid targeting covid-19. But Republicans have raised numerous fiscal objections to additional federal spending, resulting in a stalemate that has forced the Biden administration to ration the funds that remain. The new discussions around monkeypox aid could face similar political obstacles, because some GOP lawmakers previously have said they are only willing to repurpose existing funds, not authorize new dollars.

The private discussions have unfolded as public health experts warn that monkeypox, which can spread by skin-to-skin contact and cause fever, lesions and severe pain, is at risk of becoming permanently entrenched in the United States. Federal officials have identified about 3,500 cases, overwhelmingly among gay and bisexual men, and have warned that the virus is likely to spread to broader populations The World Health Organization on Saturday declared that the global monkeypox outbreak was a public health emergency of international concern, its highest-level warning, and Biden officials are contemplating a similar declaration, although the current outbreak has yet to be linked to any U.S. deaths.

Source: This news is originally published by washingtonpost

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