Democrats demand answers from Labor Department on CDC recommendations for meatpacking plant

House and Senate Democrats called on Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaStabenow congratulates Coney Barrett, says she’ll vote against her over health care Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Businesses don’t operate in a financial vacuum —don’t hamstring pension managers MORE to provide information on the agency’s involvement with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to a Smithfield meatpacking plant that had a COVID-19 outbreak. 

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTop Democrats accuse White House of withholding information on COVID-19 outbreak GOP struggles to play defense on Trump’s ObamaCare lawsuit Poll finds support for independent arbiters resolving ‘surprise’ medical bills MORE (Wash.), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPelosi urges early voting to counter GOP’s high court gambit: ‘There has to be a price to pay’ Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out House passes bill to allow private lawsuits against public schools for discriminatory practices MORE (D-Va.) sent a letter to Scalia along with Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenators introduce bipartisan bill to mandate digital apps disclose country of origin Keep teachers in the classroom Cher raised million for Biden campaign at LGBTQ-themed fundraiser MORE (D-Wis.) and Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsCoronavirus Report: The Hill’s Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Lauren Underwood Congresswoman accidentally tweets of death of Rep. John Lewis, who’s still alive Help reverse devastating health disparities by supporting the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act MORE (D-N.C.).

The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., was the site of a coronavirus outbreak in April. At least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted the coronavirus, and four employees died from it.

CDC workers visited the plant that month and provided recommendations to reduce disease transmission. The Democrats claim that the recommendations were later withdrawn, watered down and then a final version was released. 

The Democrats requested Scalia provide copies of all communications between the Labor Department and the CDC or Agriculture Department regarding a site visit to Smithfield.

The letter to request this information from Scalia follows CDC Director Robert Redfield last week telling Baldwin that his office was in contact with the Agriculture Department and Labor Department about the Smithfield outbreak.

Baldwin asked Redfield about these recommendations in a HELP Committee hearing last month and Redfield said at the time he had no contact with the Agriculture Department, White House or Smithfield on the matter.

The senators also requested copies of communications between Smithfield and the Labor Department, copies of reports of the in-person visit, a list of all versions of the visit memo, and copies of communications between the Labor Department and any other federal agency on the visit.

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