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88 Members of Congress Request Clarification from HHS and CDC on Reported Agency Censorship

December 20, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C.— Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) was joined by Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) in leading a letter expressing concern about censorship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As first reported by The Washington Post, CDC guidance directs employees to refrain from using the words “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” in documents related to the CDC’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal. The letter, which was signed by 88 Members of Congress, requests information regarding the origin, purpose, and scope of the word ban.

In the letter, the lawmakers emphasize that ideology cannot influence the ways a scientific agency communicates with the American public.

“The United States has advanced a national dialogue on ways to improve the health and well-being of diverse and vulnerable populations,” the lawmakers wrote to Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan and CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald. “Any explicit limitation of expression would be a step backwards from decades of progress. The American people deserve to know the source and reason of a perceived effort to censor science.”

HHS has said that the guidance offered to CDC employees was “mischaracterized” in media reports. However, any directive limiting the use of language is troubling, and it would appear to violate the CDC’s own Guidance on Scientific Integrity. The letter requests documents be provided on or before January 3, 2018, to clarify the situation and give Congress an understanding whether the censorship extends beyond CDC.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

Cosigners of the letter include Representatives:  James R. Langevin, Diana DeGette, Judy Chu, Suzanne Bonamici, Sean Patrick Maloney, A. Donald McEachin, Adam Schiff, Alan Lowenthal, Alma Adams, Ami Bera, Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum, Bill Foster, Bobby L. Rush, Brian Higgins, Carol Shea-Porter, Charlie Crist, Chellie Pingree, Cheri Bustos, Colleen Hanabusa, Daniel T. Kildee, Danny K. Davis, David N. Cicilline, David Price, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Dina Titus, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Doris Matsui, Dwight Evans, Earl Blumenauer, Ed Perlmutter, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Elijah E. Cummings, Eliot L. Engel, Emanuel Cleaver, G. K. Butterfield, Grace Meng, Gregory W. Meeks, Gwen Moore, Jacky Rosen, James P. McGovern, Jamie Raskin, Jan Schakowsky, Jim Cooper, Jimmy Gomez, John K. Delaney, John Lewis, John A. Yarmuth, José E. Serrano, Joyce Beatty, Julia Brownley, Katherine Clark, Kathy Castor, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Lois Frankel, Louise M. Slaughter, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano, Matt Cartwright, Mike Doyle, Mike Thompson, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Niki Tsongas, Nydia M. Velázquez, Paul D. Tonko, Peter A. DeFazio, Peter Welch, Pramila Jayapal, Raul Ruiz, Rick Larsen, Rosa L. DeLauro, Ruben Gallego, Salud O. Carbajal, Scott H. Peters, Seth Moulton, Stephen F. Lynch, Steve Cohen, Suzan K. DelBene, Ted Lieu, Terri Sewell, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, William R. Keating and Yvette D. Clarke.