What is Walensky's gripe?
Walensky is lobbying Congress to make changes to the PREVENT Pandemics Act, a bipartisan bill that could be passed in the lame-duck session this month.
One of her problems with the bill, according to Roll Call, is a provision that would make CDC director a government job that requires the consent of the U.S. Senate. If passed, it would first impact her successor.
"One could imagine, especially with the politicization of CDC at the time, that that could have taken a really long time," Walensky told the news outlet.
But Burr, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, does not care what Walensky thinks.
"Tough s**t," Burr said in response to Walensky's concern. "We desperately need to reform CDC. ... This is minor compared to what we should do."
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the committee, also defended the provision.
"The provision requiring the CDC director be Senate confirmed would not apply to the current CDC director — and going forward, it would simply treat CDC director the same as other key positions at the department, which are all Senate confirmed already," a representative for Murray told Roll Call.
Not only is Walensky lobbying against making the CDC director a Senate-confirmed position, but she is urging Congress to extend the CDC's data-collection powers.
The Biden administration has repeatedly renewed the public health emergency related to COVID-19. But at some point, it will expire. And when it does, "the CDC can continue to ask for state data on surveillance, testing, hospitalizations and deaths for a period of time after the emergency — but it does not have the authority to do that forever," Roll Call explained.
Walensky, therefore, wants Congress to broaden the CDC's data-collection powers — all in the name of informing the public, of course.
"If we don't get surveillance data, testing data, at the pace that we have been getting it, at the transparency that we've been getting, we may not be able to report on those sorts of things," she said, referring to the community impact of COVID.