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Democratic Senator Slams NRA, Republicans Over Ebola Response

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services.

Posted on October 24, 2014, at 8:30 p.m. ET

A Democratic senator puts the blame for the Centers for Disease Control's slow response to Ebola directly on the National Rifle Association and Senate and House Republicans.

Speaking in a local radio interview on Thursday, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown blamed the NRA for a lack of a U.S. surgeon general, and Congressional Republicans for cuts to public services.

"We don't have a surgeon general to, to run this, to oversee this, because of the opposition to him brought on by opposition from the National Rifle Association," Brown said.

"So we're not – we have cut spending on public health in this country, um, because some members of Congress, unfortunately a majority in the House, would prefer to do tax cuts for the wealthiest people and cut public services like CDC, like National Institutes of Health, like early childhood education – this wasn't foreseen but some of it could have been prevented if we had people in Washington that really looked out more for the public interest than for their special interests."

Brown called Republican and some Democratic opposition to the president's surgeon general pick "tragic."

"We had one, she resigned, the president made a nomination and the nominee had spoken out about gun violence and the National Rifle Association opposed that man, virtually almost every Republican got in line in the filibuster, and a few people in my party joined the filibuster as a result of the NRA, and I think it's tragic."

The National Rifle Association did indeed propose scoring a vote on Obama's surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, due to his support for gun control.

"I wish that were talked about a little more, because that — I don't know that a surgeon general would have been in a place that could have prevented this, but I think with a surgeon general, head of public health in this country, the surgeon general would have had a better-prepared public health response, and I think fewer mistakes would have been made."

Brown took aim at what he called a "bunch of demagogues in Washington" for criticizing the CDC's response.

"Instead, we've got a bunch of demagogues in Washington that are finger-pointing, and saying 'Fire the CDC,' 'It's the President's fault,' all the things that they sort of — one bird flies off a telephone wire, they always do kind of response."

The Democratic senator placed more blame on every Republican and some Democrats who he said were "at the beck and call of the NRA."

"I'm not letting my party off the hook on this — virtually every Republican is at the beck and call of the NRA when it comes to votes on the Senate floor, and a number of people in my party are. So I don't think we got to fifty votes because of that, so I'm not blaming just Republicans here. I am blaming the NRA, and I'm blaming people who say 'Appoint an Ebola czar,' but were not willing to vote for a very, very qualified Surgeon General. It just so happens the Surgeon General said some critical things about gun manufacturers."