Dem calls for CDC to immediately begin gun violence research

Dem calls for CDC to immediately begin gun violence research
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Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections MORE (D-Mass.) is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin research into gun violence immediately, following a new clarification from Congress.

Markey is calling for the research, long a priority for Democrats, after the new government funding legislation passed by Congress included language clarifying that existing restrictions do not prevent the agency from researching the causes of gun violence, only from actively advocating for gun control.

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Pointing to a $1 billion increase in funding that the CDC just received, Markey writes to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar that “it appears that the CDC is in an ideal position to begin research on this public health crisis.”

Finding a source of funding could be a problem, though. Markey asks Azar whether the CDC can use money from its existing budget for the gun violence research or whether it needs to request additional funding from Congress.  

The push for CDC research on gun violence has received new momentum following a mass shooting at a Florida high school in February.

Notably, Azar said at a congressional hearing the next day that he supported the research.

"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.

Markey, though, now wants the research to actually commence.

Top appropriators in the House and Senate on Thursday said they did not want to produce federal funding specifically for research into the causes of gun violence.

They noted that the CDC is provided funding for research and is free to do research on what the agency deems necessary.

“We’ve increased the NIH research budget by 23 percent in three years. If they want to do gun research, they have plenty of money to do it,” Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said.