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Schatz denounces CDC over contentious word list

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    From left, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., spoke following a weekly strategy session, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 7. Schatz denounced today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to his letter demanding answers regarding reports of banned words from official budget documents.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz denounced today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s response to his letter demanding answers regarding reports of banned words from official budget documents.

In a letter dated Jan. 5, the CDC said it “has not banned, prohibited, or forbidden employees from using any words,” but acknowledged that it provides guidance on words to avoid using, and suggests alternative terms.

Schatz said that those alternative terms include the use of the colloquial term “Obamacare” over “ACA” or “The Affordable Care Act,” the official name for the law. Also, the CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald provided a style guide which directed staff to avoid certain words including “vulnerable,” “diversity” and “entitlement.”

“This is Orwellian anti-science partisanship that has no place in a government agency,” said Schatz in the press release. “HHS and the CDC have an obligation to carry out the law and protect public health. They should not be engaging in partisan politics that undermine scientific progress and public faith in our government.”

Schatz’s Dec. 19 letter, co-signed by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), slammed the use of such guidance, which favors more politically charged language.

“The Trump administration is turning our federal agencies into a flat earth society, encouraging staff to avoid vital words like diversity and vulnerable,” said Markey in a statement. “These so-called alternative terms are as harmful as alternative facts, and we owe it to our health and science professionals to provide them with the best in policy guidance, not political rhetoric.”

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