Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is asking Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar what his next steps are on gun violence research after he expressed support for the idea last week.
In an unexpected move, Azar told a congressional hearing last week that he backs research on gun violence at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which he oversees. Starting that research is a top goal for Democrats on gun issues, and Markey said he was “heartened” by Azar’s comments.
“With the CDC now poised to return to this critical public health and safety research, Congress needs to know how it can be supportive,” Markey wrote in a letter to Azar on Thursday.
Markey asks when research will begin, whether Congress needs to appropriate money for the research, and whether the White House has had any contact with Azar about his support for the research.
Many Democrats have called for repealing a provision that many believe restricts CDC gun violence research, which states, “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”
But Azar said last week that the provision bans only advocacy, not research, and therefore research is allowed under current law.
Markey also asks whether Azar thinks Congress should repeal the provision anyway.