MURPHY, HELP COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS REQUEST NEW CDC DIRECTOR SUPPORT GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH, PROACTIVELY COMBAT OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Senators send President Trump key priorities for CDC Director candidate

WASHINGTON – In the wake of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director following new revelations about her ongoing financial conflicts of interest U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Senate HELP Committee Democrats in sending a letter to President Trump listing key qualifications for whomever he nominates to serve as the new CDC Director. Specifically, the senators stated that any candidate for the position must address the opioid crisis and invest in research on gun violence as a public health issue.

“We write to request that you include consideration of certain qualifications as you assess potential candidates for CDC Director. We intend to thoroughly scrutinize whomever you choose to ensure that she or he is an upstanding steward of public health who promotes policies that protect the health, safety, and security of our communities,” wrote the senators.

“Among other criteria, we believe any candidate for CDC Director must: Proactively work to address the opioid crisis by helping states build capacity to monitor its scope, and ensuring that state and local stakeholders have access to resources and information that they need to respond to the epidemic; Work to ensure agency and federal government-wide investments in research on gun violence as a public health issue,” the senators continued. “We also expect Dr. Fitzgerald’s successor to be committed to continuing the CDC’s critical work unimpeded by this Administration’s political agenda.”

Joining Murphy and Murray in sending the letter were: U.S. Senators Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Doug Jones (D-Al.). 

Full text of the letter below and a PDF can be found HERE. 

Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500 

Dear President Trump:

In light of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s recent resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resulting from her various conflicts of interest, we write to request that you include consideration of certain qualifications as you assess potential candidates for CDC Director. We intend to thoroughly scrutinize whomever you choose to ensure that she or he is an upstanding steward of public health who promotes policies that protect the health, safety, and security of our communities. We also expect Dr. Fitzgerald’s successor to be committed to continuing the CDC’s critical work unimpeded by this Administration’s political agenda. 

Among other criteria, we believe any candidate for CDC Director must:

1.      Ensure that the CDC upholds its mission by leading the federal government in engaging in critical evidence- and science-based research and policy-making;

2.      Prioritize science over ideology, including not censoring agency communications regarding any programs or research initiatives;

3.      Be a public representative of the agency, including before Congress and in public education efforts, on public health matters that fall within the CDC’s purview;

4.      Proactively work to address the opioid crisis by helping states build capacity to monitor its scope, and ensuring that state and local stakeholders have access to resources and information that they need to respond to the epidemic;

5.      Work to ensure agency and federal government-wide investments in research on gun violence as a public health issue;

6.      Support investments in public health preparedness and response efforts, including the deployment of HHS resources to respond to natural disasters;

7.      Support and advocate for global public health efforts, including positioning the United States as a partner in global health security work;

8.      Advocate for increasing vaccination rates, including promoting immunizations as the best means of protecting children from life-threatening, vaccine-preventable diseases;

9.      Advocate for measures to prevent and treat chronic disease, including efforts to ensure access to nutritious food, promote physical activity, and combat tobacco use;

10.  Support investments in prevention and treatment efforts to reduce the occurrence and severity of infectious diseases, including those caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria;

11.  Advocate for critical investments in research and scientific discovery to improve health;

12.  Support efforts to invest in prevention, including the Prevention and Public Health Fund;

13.  Resolve any and all conflicts of interest so that she or he can fully engage, uninhibited by recusals, on all matters within the CDC’s purview; and

14.  Commit to addressing harassment in the workplace, including by having a strong record of providing a safe and fair work environment, including enforcing policies to address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, ensuring reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities, and providing equal employment opportunities for all employees.

Thank you for your attention to these requirements. We will continue to work to ensure any candidate you choose to entrust with overseeing the health and safety of our nation is held to the highest possible standard.

Sincerely, 

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