WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) once again demanded answers and transparency from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during today’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. Cassidy pressed Dr. Walensky over CDC’s own internal reporting from July that 78% of CDC employees are working fully remote or only come into the office part-time, which the CDC only reluctantly revealed after a FOIA request from The Epoch Times. This comes as the Biden administration asks Congress for $22.4 billion additional taxpayer dollars for CDC and our federal health agencies.
“Dr. Walensky, part of [a robust response to infectious diseases] has got to be predicated on trust between the American people and the agencies, that the agencies are functioning to the best that they can. I feel like that trust has frankly been dissipated,” said Dr. Cassidy.
On The Epoch Times receiving information Cassidy has requested for nearly a year…
“I’ve asked you on multiple occasions what percentage of the CDC workforce is actually showing up. Frankly, you’ve always blocked that. You have never given a straight answer. I’d like to enter for the record an article from The Epoch Times in which they did a FOIA request to find out how many folks at the CDC were actually working—showing up…and 2,772 out of roughly 13,000 employees are showing up every day…but 78% are working completely remotely or come in maybe only twice every two months. Why is that important? First, that was a noble fact but it was not shared with Congress, we the representatives of the American people. I think the American people would like to know if the CDC is not functioning well, how many of the people are actually showing up,” continued Dr. Cassidy.
On Dr. Walensky teleworking and disfunction within the CDC…
“I mention CDC not functioning well because I now reference an article that I will enter to the record, from The New York Times from August 17th…at the end of the article, they quote an acting director [of CDC] under President Obama, Dr. Besser, first pointing out that you are still working remotely, you yourself are still working remotely at least as of August 17th. And then [they write], ‘but he said it was hard to see how Dr. Walensky could execute wholesale changes when she only sees most of her staff at a distance. “I don’t know how you motivate and inspire culture change when people aren’t together,”[he said]’” said Dr. Cassidy.
On CDC requesting additional funding…
“Now CDC is requesting billions of dollars for public health initiatives in an agency, which by your assessment is not functioning well, in which about only 22% of the people are showing up every day, and in which previous Obama officials are doubtful that you can affect change because you don’t show up every day. I say that, kind of painfully, because I want the CDC to work,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It is incredibly frustrating that a deliberate decision was made to not be transparent with the American people as regards to the amount of people actually showing up for work. It takes a FOIA request from a newspaper, and now you’re asking for billions more. Why should we trust [CDC with billions]?”
On pre-pandemic in-person work numbers at the CDC…
Cassidy: “What percent of CDC employees before the pandemic actually showed up for work every day, as opposed to the only 22% [coming into the office full-time] now?”
Walensky: “I don’t have those numbers for you.”
According to a July 20 article from The Epoch Times, a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to the CDC’s record office confirmed that “[o]f the approximately 12,679 full-time workers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 78 percent are either not working in-person at all, or are only doing so part of the time.” The FOIA request “…shows that 5,440 workers remain fully remote, 4,467 spend at least some time working remotely, and just 2,772 workers report to work in-person each day.”
On August 17, The New York Times reported that Dr. Walensky continues to work remotely.
Timeline of Cassidy pressing CDC Director Walenksy for answers regarding their in-person work statistics: