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Former Congressman Dr. Phil Gingrey provides public policy and government relations counsel to clients on a variety of issues. Here at Phil on the Hill, Phil draws upon his long career in public service to provide perspective and context on policy topics such as health care, the federal budget, annual appropriations, regulatory reform, and life sciences.

Brenda Fitzgerald Takes the Helm of the CDC

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In June, I blogged about the need for President Trump to appoint a highly qualified leader for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A month later, the president made a splendid appointment – Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald – who is settling in now as the Director of the CDC.

I know Brenda well. A fellow OB/GYN, she and her husband Tom, also a physician, lived near me in Carrollton, Georgia. I dabbled in politics during part of my practice, serving on the Marietta school board and in the Georgia state senate. But it wasn’t until I got to know Brenda and Tom, who were very active in national politics that I began to think about running for Congress myself. 

I am sure I am one of countless people inspired to do more after meeting Brenda Fitzgerald. Brenda is one of those rare types who is as good with people as she is with medicine and science. 

She served in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of Major. She served as President of the Georgia OB/GYN society. And she has the experience to lead the CDC, having run the state public health agency as Georgia’s Public Health Commissioner for six years. During her service as Commissioner, she oversaw various state public health programs that managed health promotion and disease prevention, nursing, Georgia WIC and many other vital services. As Commissioner, Brenda also led efforts to reduce infant mortality, improve children’s language development, curb tobacco use and reduce obesity. 

Today, as the head of the CDC, Brenda leads an agency that is the nation’s forward-observer of potentially lethal, viral threats as varied as Ebola, West Nile and Zika. She is also in charge of programs to combat chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and obesity.

As Congress continues to work on passing their spending bills for fiscal year 2018, I am encouraged to see that they did not go along with the president’s proposed budget cut of $1.2 billion to the CDC. I appreciate and support the administration’s desire to reduce federal spending. But as I’ve said before, the agency Brenda leads is as much a part of our national defense as the Pentagon, protecting us from threats to our national bloodstream. Whatever the outcome of Congressional budget priorities, I am glad to see CDC is in such good and capable hands.