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WATCH: Senate Appropriations Committee holds hearing on CDC Budget

The Senate Committee on Appropriations will hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Watch the hearing in the video player above.

The hearing will include testimony from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking is a $1.6 billion increase in CDC funding as it continues to manage the pandemic and vaccination efforts.

In a major step toward returning to pre-pandemic life, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people last Friday, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we are seeing this great, great end point in sight,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during an interview on morning network television.

“But I think we really do have to be humble and say that this virus, this pandemic has given us twists and turns, so we can’t get our eye off the ball, and we do have to continue to monitor really carefully,” she said.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues – even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

To date more than 154 million Americans, nearly 47 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 119 million are fully vaccinated.

The rate of new vaccinations has slowed in recent weeks, but with the authorization Wednesday of the Pfizer shot for children ages 12 to 15, a new burst of doses is expected in the coming days.