Two senior Democrats in the House and Senate are demanding more information about why Trump administration officials have reportedly told staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to avoid using certain words or phrases in official budget documents.
Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayBuilding strong public health capacity across the US Texas abortion law creates 2022 headache for GOP Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug Intercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum MORE (D-N.J.) said in a letter sent Monday to acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Eric Hargan that the policy “sends a clear message that the Trump Administration is yet again prioritizing ideology over science.”
The Washington Post reported Saturday that the Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within HHS that they should avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget.
The phrases include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
“The prohibition has the potential to freeze scientific advancement at the agency and across the Department,” the letter said.
Pallone and Murray called on HHS to explain the rationale for the prohibition, whether it applies to all agencies and divisions within HHS, and for the full list of words that agency staff is prohibited from using.
The lawmakers demanded answers by Jan. 2.
“The Department’s leaders cannot both uphold a commitment to prioritizing science over politics and ideology and support prohibiting the use of key words and phrases that are central to the broader health mission of the Department,” Murray and Pallone wrote.
Pallone is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Murray is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“We are incredibly concerned by this unconscionable restriction on agency communications and the message this sends regarding the critical health and scientific work of the Department,” the lawmakers wrote.
In tweets sent after the Post report came out, the head of the CDC disputed the idea of a banned words list.
I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs.— Dr Brenda Fitzgerald (@CDCDirector) December 17, 2017