Schumer’s Resolution Calling For Release of CDC’s Reopening Guidelines Fails in Senate

'The CDC stands by to give technical assistance to any state upon any request,' says director
May 14, 2020 Updated: May 14, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s resolution calling for release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on reopening America failed to pass in the Senate on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Schumer (D-N.Y.) had called for the immediate release of the CDC’s framework, saying, “The point is that America needs and must have the candid guidance of our best scientists—unfiltered, unedited, and uncensored by President Trump or his political minions,” and that the “CDC report on reopening the country is an important piece of that guidance.”

But the resolution was voted down by Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, who said that the move was just trying to add “bureaucratic hurdles” to “shutter the economy” using the CDC’s “over prescriptive guidelines.”

The resolution was in response to a leaked CDC report that the media reported Trump had “shelved.”

According to media reports, the CDC report offered specific, tailored recommendations and detailed flow charts to help guide states, local governments, businesses, schools, churches and religious institutions, and individuals on when and how to begin to easing social distancing currently in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, without causing undue risks to public health, and preventing the recurrence of a second wave, and more infections and more deaths.

Media reports said that the CDC’s guidelines were more detailed and restrictive than the guidelines that had been issued by the White House task force on April 17. Reports said the CDC also provided recommendations to help communities decide when to shut facilities down again during future flareups of COVID-19.

But in response to the media’s reporting at the time, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said that the prematurely leaked documents were still in “draft form” and had not yet been vetted through an interagency review process.

“I had not seen a version of the guidance incorporating interagency and task force input and therefore was not yet comfortable releasing a final work product,” he said on May 9.

Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks
Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House in Washington April 17, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The CDC’s interim guidelines document was shared by the media, but no final document from the CDC has yet been released.

The Democratic leader had argued in the Senate that the president was working to edit the CDC’s work, and that he and his “staff of yes-people simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the coronavirus.”

“It has become painfully clear over the last two months how unfamiliar he is with the disciplines of science and medicine … Anyone who would say drink bleach, use bleach to protect yourself is not much of a medical expert,” Schumer said, repeating the media’s characterization of Trump’s remarks about “disinfectant.”

“So it is difficult if not impossible to imagine any legitimate, constructive purpose in a desire by the President or his staff to edit the CDC’s work,” he said.

Redfield was pressed on the status of the CDC guidelines again during his testimony to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Tuesday, when he said that the CDC’s recommendations would soon be released on the CDC’s website, although he did not specify a date.

He again denied that the CDC’s guidance had been shelved by the Trump administration.

He added that while the final document is being prepared, “the CDC stands by to give technical assistance to any state upon any request.”

“We’ll give guidance directly to anyone in your state on any circumstance that your state desires guidance from.”