Trump Admin Policies Leave 700 CDC Jobs Vacant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stand between us and deadly pandemics. Its work is serious and urgent, not something that should be subject to political delays or red tape.

Yet the Washington Post reports that the CDC has nearly 700 vacant positions waiting to be filled, a backlog largely due to the president's executive order instituting a hiring freeze and a department-wide limitation on hiring that replaced the formal freeze once it was lifted.

This reporting is based in part off of the Sierra Club's Freedom of Information Act request, which found 125 job categories that were blocked by the hiring freeze. These positions included 21 health scientists, 6 health communication specialists, 20 public health advisors and analysts, and the Environmental Health Science and Practice Division's director (you can see the entire list here).

Similar to the Environmental Protection Agency's numbers, the CDC's frozen jobs were heavily tilted toward scientists and medical experts (26% of positions) and policy experts (19%). The freeze prevented the CDC from hiring advanced staff such as microbiologists, chemists, economists, statisticians, and epidemiologists. 

These are not the stereotypical "bureaucrats" of conservative folklore -- they are folks who might very well save your life, only you'll never know it. The CDC studies how to protect Americans from a variety of public health threats -- viral outbreaks like Zika & ebola, environmental toxins like lead, chronic diseases like asthma, chemical weapon attacks, and much, much more. 

Putting aside the policies preventing hiring and recruitment, the CDC's research is imperiled by the Trump administration's budget. The Department of Health and Human Services, which manages the CDC, has a proposed $15 billion cut for the next fiscal year, or 18 percent of its total budget.

As Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said recently, "You’re much more likely to die in a pandemic than a terrorist attack." Our funding should reflect that pollution and disease are among the biggest threats to Americans' lives.

It's also important to look at the CDC's hiring freeze and the department's budget cuts in concert with the other actions Congress and the Trump administration are taking to undermine your health. They're rolling back public health safeguards, eliminating key programs, dismissing overwhelming science, and making it harder for people to afford health care. People will die due to these actions. Never lose sight of that.

The White House is taking public input on priorities for reorganizing the executive branch. You can participate by telling the Administration to boost public health:

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