March 2, 2020/Press

Tillis Has Voted to Cut Disease Prevention Funding… Even After Health Officials Warned It Could “Cripple” Their Ability to Respond

With the U.S. beginning to combat the spread of the coronavirus, a look back at Senator Tillis’ record shows that he has voted to undercut the government’s public health efforts and stood silent as all of Trump’s budget proposals have called for cuts to CDC funding.

In 2017, Senator Tillis voted to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, even as public health officials raised alarms that doing so would “cripple officials’ ability to detect, prevent and respond to health threats including pandemic flu.

He’s now refusing to stand up to the Trump administration, even as officials confirm their response has been “complete chaos” and as the administration continues to face “swift bipartisan backlash.” Democrats are requesting more than three times the amount the White House initially said it was willing to spend to tackle the outbreak, yet Tillis refuses to stand up against the administration’s bungled and inadequate response.

Tillis has also espoused beliefs around washing hands that fly in the face of what health experts advise. “Everyone from the WHO to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” emphasizes regular hand-washing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Yet Tillis once said he doesn’t believe that the government should require restaurant workers to wash their hands — instead, Tillis thinks “the market will take care of that.”

“Senator Tillis not only holds concerning views on basic public health guidelines, he’s also supported eliminating critical funding that would help officials adequately respond to health threats and is now standing silently on the sidelines as the administration fumbles its inadequate coronavirus response,” NCDP spokesperson Robert Howard said. “North Carolinians deserve to know: will Senator Tillis push for adequate resources for this public health outbreak?”

CNN: Tillis: Government shouldn’t require restaurant hand-washing
By Eric Bradner, CNN
February 3, 2015

Key Points:

  • The invisible hand might control the free market — but it also might not be washed.
  • During a question-and-answer session at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday — posted online by C-SPAN — the freshman North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis was riffing about the United States being “one of the most regulated nations in the history of the planet.”
  • He told the story of a conversation he had at a Starbucks in his old state legislative district, where he said businesses should be able to “opt out” of some requirements.
  • His conversation partner said some regulations — like public health requirements, such as requiring restaurant workers to wash their hands — are necessary.
  • But Tillis disagreed, saying it’s an example he could use to “illustrate the point.”
  • “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy, as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,'” Tillis said.
  • “The market will take care of that,” he said, drawing laughs Monday.