“At a time when the pandemic still threatens our allies and partners, we should invest, not cut, in a program whose main purpose is to identify and minimize the spread of dangerous pathogens,” Langevin said. “If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we absolutely have to face these challenges before they turn into crises.”

Chair of the GOP conference Elise Stefanik of New York, another senior member of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, criticized the proposed cut in spending on the biological program as an example of what they broadly called a defense budget tightening.

“The President’s budget is a gift to China and our adversaries around the world, and unfortunately there is a lack of adequate support for our military and critical programs such as bio-defense,” said Stefanik.

‘Early detection ability’

The U.S. military is leading the research and development of coronavirus vaccines and their distribution. And despite the proposed cut to the biological early warning program, the Pentagon still plans to spend $ 500 million in fiscal 2022 to continue responding to COVID-19 and preparing for future pandemics, officials said.

COVID-19 is “the greatest imminent threat to our nation’s security,” a Pentagon budget presentation slide told reporters on Jan.