Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today cosponsored the Scientific Integrity Protection Act. The bill would require a task force, comprised of five members of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, to conduct an investigation of political interference with significant decisions made by scientific agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“This week, our country marked a bleak milestone when we surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 fatalities. It didn’t have to be this way. Since the start of the pandemic, the Trump Administration has put politics first while science and facts have taken a back seat. President Trump has undermined our public health officials and agencies at a time when the American public needs their guidance the most. I’m proud to join this legislation to preserve and protect the integrity of scientific decision making at our public institutions, but more importantly, to stop the Trump Administration’s political interference that threatens our response to the pandemic and continues to put Nevadans’ lives at risk.”
The Scientific Integrity Protection Act requires that the independent investigation be conducted by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, established by the CARES Act, before January 31st 2021 and every six months after until the end of the public health emergency. The task force would investigate if political interference with significant decisions made by scientific agencies occurred within the Administration. The investigation would include future decisions made during the Public Health Emergency, such as the authorization or approval of further therapeutics or a vaccine, as well as political interference with public health guidance or reporting.
Examples of how the Trump Administration has interfered in the pandemic response:
- On September, 18: The New York Times reports that Secretary Azar has barred the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from signing any new rules without his approval.
- September, 18: The New York Times and Washington Post report further on how Trump Administration political appointees tried to silence Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) experts.
- September, 14: The New York Times reports that the spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services has promoted false conspiracy theories about the work of experts and scientists at the nation’s public health agencies.
- September, 12: The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration pressured officials at the FDA and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to authorize convalescent plasma therapy before their review of its safety and effectiveness were complete.