Trump health chief supports CDC research on gun violence

Trump health chief supports CDC research on gun violence
© Getty Images

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said Thursday that he would allow his department to conduct research into the causes of gun violence, a major Democratic priority. 

Democrats on Thursday pushed for lifting a provision that restricts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from conducting research into gun violence as part of their response to the mass shooting at a Florida school on Wednesday
 
Azar, appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he thought the CDC already has the ability to conduct gun violence research and indicated that this research will occur.  
ADVERTISEMENT

 
"We believe we’ve got a very important mission with our work with serious mental illness as well as our ability to do research on the causes of violence and the causes behind tragedies like this so that is a priority for us especially at the Centers for Disease Control," Azar said. 
 
Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorUS lawmakers celebrate the royal wedding EPA approved aide to work for GOP firm, Florida lawmaker Live coverage: Pruitt faces grilling in House hearings MORE (D-Fla.) pressed him specifically on the annual appropriations provision, which states, "None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”
 
Azar responded that the provision only prevents advocacy, not research. 
 
"My understanding is that the rider does not in any way impede our ability to conduct our research mission," Azar said. "It is simply about advocacy."
 
Asked by Castor if he would be "proactive" on gun violence research, Azar replied, "We certainly will."
 
"Our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’re in the science business and the evidence-generating business and so I will have our agency certainly be working in this field as they do across the whole broad spectrum," Azar said.