U.S. Government Allocates $3.2 Billion for COVID-19 Antiviral Pills

Department of Health & Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services will invest $3.2 billion to develop and manufacture COVID-19 antiviral medicines, it announced Thursday.

The initiative, funded as part of the American Rescue Plan, is designed to accelerate research into antivirals as well as build platforms for urgent response to future viral threats, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a statement Thursday. Specifically, the plan expands antiviral clinical trials, forms partnerships between health agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and funds “drug discovery groups” tasked with innovating new antiviral medicines.

“New antivirals that prevent serious COVID-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci in the statement.

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Six Times in a Row, Becerra Refuses to Admit Partial Birth Abortion Is Illegal

Baby boy sleeping

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra repeatedly refused Thursday to acknowledge that partial birth abortion is illegal in the U.S.

Becerra falsely denied last month that there is an existing law banning partial birth abortion, apparently forgetting the law that he himself voted against. His denial sparked a backlash among conservatives and pro-life advocates and prompted multiple senators to question him about the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in hearings this week.

During Thursday’s hearing, Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines asked Becerra whether partial birth abortion is illegal several times. Becerra repeatedly refused to address the question or acknowledge that partial birth abortion is illegal and emphasized that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land.

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Biden Administration Threatens to Sue If Texas Governor Closes Migrant Detention Centers

The Biden administration threatened to sue Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott if the state follows through with plans to stop working with the federal government to detain migrant minors, according to a letter from federal officials Monday.

Abbott issued a disaster declaration on May 31 that ordered all facilities operating on federal contracts to house migrants who entered the country illegally to close. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said Abbott’s declaration illegally discriminates against the federal government’s 52 state-licensed facilities operating in Texas to house unaccompanied migrant minors.

“The May 31 Proclamation discriminates against the Federal government by targeting the licenses held only by those entities providing shelter to ‘unlawful immigrants or other individuals not lawfully present in the United States under a contract with the federal government,’” according to HHS.

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Senate Republicans Pressure Biden Administration over Claims It Coordinated with Teachers’ Unions on School Reopening

A handful of Senate Republicans sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Wednesday demanding more information about the newly-announced school reopening guidelines, as reported by the Daily Caller.

The letter, signed by five Senate Republicans including Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.,) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), is addressed to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, as well as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. The letter asks both officials to provide explanations for why the CDC has ultimately decided to reopen all American schools by June 2nd.

In the letter, the senators point to recently-unearthed emails, first uncovered by Americans for Public Trust, which reveal that the CDC communicated directly with the nation’s top teachers’ unions, including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), to discuss drafting the reopening guidelines.

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Biden Admin Diverts $2 Billion from Healthcare Programs to Help Illegal Migrant Children

Temporary soft sided facilities are utilized to process noncitizen individuals, noncitizen families and noncitizen unaccompanied children as part of the ongoing response to the current border security and humanitarian effort along the Southwest Border in Donna, Texas, May 4, 2021.

The Biden administration redirected over $2 billion allocated for other health initiatives to care for unaccompanied migrant minors, Politico reported Saturday.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will receive $850 million meant for the federal emergency medical fund depleted by COVID-19 and another $850 million set aside for COVID-19 testing, according to three people familiar with the matter, Politico reported. HHS struggled to open and staff several emergency intake facilities to move over 20,000 migrant children out of border patrol facilities.

“They’ve been in a situation of needing to very rapidly expand capacity, and emergency capacity is much more expensive,” Mark Greenberg, Migration Policy Institute senior fellow and former leader of the Obama administration’s HHS administration for children and families, told Politico. “You can’t just say there’s going to be a waiting list or we’re going to shut off intake. There’s literally not a choice.”

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Biden Admin Scrambling to Figure out How Migrant Children Were Left on Buses Overnight Outside Federal Facility

Migrant children at border

Biden administration officials are investigating reports of unaccompanied migrant minors spending nights on buses outside a federal holding facility in Dallas, Texas, NBC News reported Thursday.

Migrant children are sleeping, eating and using the restroom on buses outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, sometimes for days, according to NBC News.

“This is completely unacceptable,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said, NBC News reported. “We’re quickly investigating this to get to the bottom of what happened, and we’ll work to make sure this never happens again. The safety and well-being of the children is our priority.”

A 15-year-old migrant, Joel, made the journey from Honduras to reunite with his mother and was left on a bus from Saturday until the bus departed on its way to Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday, NBC News reported. His mother, Doris, said an HHS employee told them Joel would arrive Monday despite the bus remaining in Dallas.

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Biden Administration Eliminates Religious Exemptions for Doctors

Under the Biden Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has eliminated religious conscience exemptions for doctors who are forced to perform gender-alteration surgeries, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The move represents yet another crucial and widely-popular policy that was first enacted by President Donald Trump, only for Biden to reverse it. HHS announced on Monday that to overturn this policy, it would be expanding its definition of sex discrimination so that sexual preference and “gender orientation” would be included among identities that could be considered discriminated against by such a policy.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement in which he claimed that “people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination.”

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Biden Admin Appeals to Force Religious Doctors, Hospitals to Provide Trans Surgeries Despite Conscience Objections

Doctor with arms folded, holding stethescope

President Joe Biden’s administration filed an appeal Tuesday that seeks to force religious doctors and hospitals to provide transgender surgeries, regardless of religious objections.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration issued a mandate in 2016 requiring doctors and hospitals to provide transgender surgeries upon a mental health professional’s referral. The transgender mandate, an interpretation of an Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination clause, did not include conscience or religion exemptions.

An association of over 19,000 healthcare professionals, several religious organizations, and nine states challenged the mandate in two different courts, according to a website on the mandate run by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

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‘Americans Must Be Prepared for What Is Coming’: Pro-Life Lawmakers, Activists Condemn Becerra’s Confirmation to Health and Human Services

Pro-life lawmakers and activists condemned news Thursday that the senate confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as health and human services secretary, warning that Becerra is both “a culture warrior” and an “extreme left-wing ideologue.”

“Becerra is a culture warrior who made his name in bloody-knuckled politics by bullying nuns,” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Thursday, referring to Becerra’s battles with the Little Sisters of the Poor over an Obama-era contraception mandate.

The Nebraska senator added that Health and Human Services (HHS) should be focused on health during the pandemic — not Becerra’s progressive priorities.

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Commentary: Becerra as HHS Chief Would Undo Conscience Protections

Medical professionals on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic desperately need reinforcements. That’s why President Biden, in his “American Rescue Plan,” proposes enough funding to triple the number of community health care workers.    

But if the administration doesn’t have a clear policy of enforcing longstanding conscience protections for health care providers, it will jeopardize their ability to recruit the talent we need to defeat the coronavirus.  

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HHS Expected to Recommend Vaccine Distribution Extended to Elderly

The Trump administration is expected to alter its coronavirus vaccine distribution guidance, recommending that people aged 65 and older are made eligible to be inoculated, The New York Times reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense are expected to announce the new guidance at a noon press conference, an anonymous official briefed on the announcement told the Times. The change to the recommendations is intended to quicken the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, which has been far behind pace.

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House Homeland Security Chair Urges Authorities to Put Capitol Rioters on ‘No-Fly List’

Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, on Thursday urged the TSA and the FBI to place certain members of the Capitol mob on the “No-Fly List.”

“Given the heinous domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol yesterday, I am urging the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] and the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to use their authorities to add the names of all identified individuals involved in the attack to the federal No-Fly List and keep them off planes,” Thompson said in a press release.

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Coronavirus Vaccinations Could Begin Monday, Reach 50 Million Americans by February, HHS Secretary Says

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the first coronavirus vaccinations outside a clinical trial could begin as early as Monday.

Azar’s announcement follows a key FDA panel’s vote of confidence Thursday for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, clearing the way for the agency to issue an emergency use authorization. The FDA said that authorization would be announced later Friday, and that it was communicating with the CDC and Operation Warp Speed to ensure the most efficient distribution possible.

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Seven Things to Know About Biden’s Radical Choice to Run HHS

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with a record in that state office and Congress that conservatives consider extreme, is headed for a rocky confirmation battle to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in announcing Sunday his intent to nominate Becerra for HHS secretary, cited Becerra’s leadership in defending Obamacare as a state attorney general and his support for passing the health care law while in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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Biden’s HHS Picks Have Called Gun Laws a Matter of Public Health

Two of President-elect Joe Biden’s picks to lead the Department of Health and Human Services have likened gun control to a public health issue.

Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General, in 2012 criticized the National Rifle Association (NRA) and tweeted that firearms are a “health care issue.” Murthy, who’s the co-chair of the former vice president’s coronavirus task force, has been included on a Bloomberg list of possible Biden HHS appointees.

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Two Moves Trump HHS Is Taking to Make Government More Accountable

In another Trump administration move to boost transparency and roll back regulations, the Department of Health and Human Services issued two statements of policy on Tuesday that will affect any future imposition of regulations going forward. 

The first policy requires the department and its agencies to demonstrate to the public how they reached a conclusion on the economic cost of a regulation. 

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‘An Amazing Deal’: U.S. Secures Most of Global Remdesivir Supply

The United States has secured nearly the entire global supply of remdesivir, a drug that has been effective in fighting coronavirus.

Remdesivir, which is manufactured by American pharmaceutical giant Gilead, has proven to help patients with coronavirus recover faster, according to The Guardian. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secured more than 500,000 doses of the drug, accounting for the vast majority of Gilead’s July, August and September supply, according to a Monday press release.

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HHS Scraps Obama-Era Rules on Gender Identity, Abortion

Federal health officials announced a final rule Friday scrapping an Obama-era regulation that forced medical workers to perform abortions despite their religious beliefs.

The Obama administration’s 2016 regulation, already vacated by a court ruling, also redefined sex-based discrimination in health care to include questions of gender identity. 

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Report: HHS Computer System Hit with a Cyber Attack from a Potential Foreign Actor

Hackers seized upon a U.S. Health and Human Services Department computer system Sunday during the government’s public response to the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The cyber attack was designed to slow down the U.S. response and toss a wrench into the gears of the HHS’s computer system, Bloomberg noted, citing three sources who requested commenting anonymously to discuss something that was not yet public.

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The ‘New’ Ninth Circuit Court Rules Trump Admin Stripping Funding From Abortion Clinics Is Constitutional

Fetus on Health

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the Trump administration can continue stripping federal funding from clinics that offer abortions.

The court upheld the Trump administration’s June 2019 declaration that taxpayer-funded clinics must stop referring women for abortions or be stripped of their Title X funding.

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Nessel, Ellison Praise Judge for Blocking Trump Admin Religious Liberty Rule

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel praised a district court for its decision to block a Trump Administration rule that would have allowed health care workers to refuse certain services on religious liberty grounds.

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