GOP congressman slams Trump's proposed cuts to NIH, CDC: 'You're much more likely to die in a pandemic than a terrorist attack'

Tom Cole.
(Image credit: Screenshot/MSNBC)

Republican Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) deemed President Trump's proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budgets "short-sighted" in an interview Friday on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "These are investments the country ought to be making," said Cole, a member of the House Appropriations and Budget Committees. He made clear he was not in favor of the 2018 budget blueprint's proposal to significantly slash NIH funding and reallocate CDC funding to states, suggesting Trump should instead look to entitlement reform to support "wise" increases to military spending.

Cole argued that defense spending — which Trump's budget blueprint calls for ratcheting up by $54 billion — is no more important than investing in health research. "You're much more likely to die in a pandemic than a terrorist attack, and so that's part of the defense of the country as well," Cole said. "The CDC is what protects you from things like Ebola and Zika. The NIH, we have 1.6 million Americans a year that contract cancer. About 600,000 die. That is more people than died in the Civil War, the bloodiest war in American history."

The Oklahoma congressman also voiced concern about the budget's call for cutting the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by as much as 30 percent. Cole pointed out "almost half" of the EPA's $8.3 billion budget goes to "grants for clean water and tribal grants, things of that nature." "I think those are popular and pretty well-served," Cole said, though he conceded that some of the agency's regulatory measures "are not particularly popular, and I don't think particularly helpful."

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Catch Cole's interview below. Becca Stanek

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