Sen. Burr Presses Biden’s CDC on Reasons For Rescinding Title 42

Sen. Burr Presses Biden's CDC on Reasons For Rescinding Title 42 Sen. Burr Presses Biden's CDC on Reasons For Rescinding Title 42 Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., talks on the phone as he heads to the U.S. Capitol for votes on February 07, 2022 . (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Jason Clemons | Tuesday, 05 April 2022 09:18 PM

The controversy surrounding the Biden administration's recent repeal of the Title 42 health order has reached another level of scrutiny.

On Tuesday, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the senior Republican on the Senate Health Committee, queried the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director in a letter, asking what "science" the CDC used in rescinding Title 42 — which helped limit asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I believe that I understand the Administration's progressive politics driving the decision, but I do not believe that there is adequate science that would allow such a decision to be made," Burr wrote to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

Last week, the Biden administration said that lifting the Title 42 order — which had been implemented to expedite an estimated 1.7 million deportations, according to The Hill — was based on science, and not a political shift in attitude.

COVID-19 cases within the United States have gone down substantially in recent weeks, but infection rates remain high in Mexico.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Title 42 had been instituted by former President Donald Trump's CDC to minimize the migration of people from other countries with high levels of communicable disease.

And Burr demanded to know if things had suddenly changed at the Mexico border.

"As of today, CDC assesses the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Mexico to be Level 3, or high, and all other countries in Central America are at or above Level 3, except for those that CDC recommends U.S. travelers entirely avoid due to lack of information about COVID-19 transmission levels," Burr wrote.

Burr also requested the CDC explain how it factored the waning efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines into the decision to open the border to tens of thousands of new asylum claims.

"The durability of immunity among the U.S. population over the coming months remains to be seen, as much of the population continues to be ineligible for a fourth (COVID vaccine) dose," Burr wrote.

According to The Hill, the Senate Republicans' plan to amend a $10 billion COVID-19 relief bill, thus restoring Title 42 order, could have strong support across the aisle. As many as five Senate Democrats have reportedly stated their objections to Title 42 being repealed. The dissenting list includes Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.

"Security of the border is everything. It's everything," Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.

The Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would prefer the Senate Republicans drop the proposed amendment to Title 42.

On Tuesday night, Schumer reportedly sought to advance the COVID relief package on the Senate floor without a bipartisan deal on amendments, but Republicans blocked the measure.

The CDC has yet to formally respond to Burr's information-gathering letter, but the White House has already aired public comments on the matter.

Earlier on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said, "(Repealing Title 42) is a decision made by the CDC. It's a public health decision. It's not one that should be wrapped up, of course, in politics. … And the decision made by the CDC is where it should belong as it related to Title 42."

Burr's letter might have been a continuation of his disappointment with the Biden administration from last week, saying the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic around the U.S.-Mexico border remains "a contradictory mess."

"On one hand, the Administration is clamoring for additional emergency funding and costing taxpayers $5 billion per month by delaying student loan repayment, citing the continued threat of COVID-19," wrote Burr.

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