Senators Demand Answers on “Banned Words” at CDC

December 19, 2017, 11:21 AM HST · Updated December 19, 11:21 AM

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US Senator Brian Schatz is among a list of lawmakers that are demanding answers amid reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and potentially other agencies were directed to avoid using certain words or phrases in official budget documents.

Sen. Schatz notes that according to reports, words to avoid in official budget documents at the CDC include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

In a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and Office of Management and Budget, the senators ask about the development and dissemination of any discouraged words, the legality and enforcement of such a policy, and the policies in place to ensure the scientific integrity of the health agencies.

Senators that joined in making the demands are: US Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).


“We write regarding concerning reports that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and potentially the Department of Health and Human Services, are discouraging the use of specific words or phrases in official FY19 budget documents,” the senators wrote. “Such an agenda, especially if motivated by political factors, threatens to undermine the tremendous scientific progress at the CDC and the public’s faith in government, more broadly. If true, this guidance is not just a mere change to vocabulary, it is a fundamental shift of direction and a reflection of flawed ideology. While Director Fitzgerald has recently denied the existence of such a ban, we request clarity on your policies via specific answers to the questions below.”

“We must ensure that the actions of our federal agencies—particularly those so important for maintaining the health and safety of our citizens—adhere to the highest standards of research and scientific integrity,” the senators wrote. “Given that the Trump administration has already shown a propensity to defund, silence, and eliminate agencies and programs that serve medically vulnerable communities and promote research rooted in science, we are particularly alarmed by even the possibility that the administration would direct a federal scientific agency to avoid the use of medically accurate language.”

A full copy of the senators’ letter is available at the following direct link.



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