CDC Now Has Seven Words They Can’t Say in Budget Reports

The Center for Disease Control’s officials are now prohibited from using seven certain words in the documents being prepared for next year’s budget. The Trump administration has banned the words transgender, fetus, vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, evidence-based, and science-based from appearing in the public health agency’s officials documents, but CDC and the Office of Budget and Management, which oversees what is included in the budget reports, are not saying why.

Thursday CDC policy analysts in Atlanta were told about the list of blocked words during a meeting, with senior officials overseeing the budget.

The analysts do have some alternative phrases they can use. Instead of the hyphenated “science-based,” the new suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the analyst said. No replacement words were offered for others in the list.

Meanwhile, the use of the words transgender and fetus are likely part of the questions surrounding how to address issues such as abortion, sexual orientation, or gender identity that have popped up often after President Donald Trump took office.

Federal policies and how information is being gathered about LGBT Americans has changed in the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, as well as in Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development.

HHS has dropped information about LGBT Americans from its website, and in two surveys involving elderly people, the agency dropped questions involving gender identity and sexual orientation.

The CDC meeting in Atlanta about the banned words was lead by Office of Financial Services senior leader Alison Kelly, the analyst speaking with The Post said. She did not say why the words were being banned, but just that she was relaying information.

Several CDC offices have work that uses the words, including the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, which is working to prevent HIV among transgender people.

The CDC is also working on research concerning birth defects on developing fetuses caused by the Zika virus, The Post noted.

The president’s budget blueprint for 2019 is expected out in early February, and the analyst, speaking under condition of anonymity to The Post, said the word ban is related to the CDC’s budget and supported materials that will be given to its partners and Congress.

The agencies are also sending budget proposals to the OMB, which has the authority about what’s included in it.

The analyst could not recall another time when words had been banned from budget proposals, after being involved in writing proposals for other administrations’ spending blueprints.

The analyst said the reaction to the news was “incredulous” during the meeting.

“In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint,” the analyst said.


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