Senators Move to Protect Scientists from Political Interference

February 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – More than two dozen Democratic senators filed a bill late Tuesday aimed at protecting government scientists from political interference.

The legislation, led by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), comes in the wake of recent reports that Trump administration officials had placed gag orders on employees at the EPA.   

“Few things are more un-American than censorship, especially when it would keep the public in the dark on vital public health and safety information, such as climate change and sea level rise,” said Nelson, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  “Any attempt to intimidate or muzzle scientists must be stopped.”

Among other things, the legislation (S.338) would:

  • Reaffirm the principle of open communication of scientific findings and prevent the suppression of scientific findings;
  • Ensure that scientists are allowed to communicate their findings with the public, press, and Congress;
  • Direct federal agencies to develop scientific integrity policies that include whistleblower protections; and,
  • Require scientific integrity policies to be posted online and given to all new hires

Since November, more than 5,000 scientists, including many Nobel Prize winners, have signed an open letter urging President Trump and Congress to preserve scientific integrity.

Nelson was joined on the legislation by Sens. Peters, Udall, Schatz, Blumenthal, Coons, Gillibrand, Merkley, Van Hollen, Whitehouse, Baldwin, Reed, Heinrich, Feinstein, Warren, Hassan, Stabenow, Booker, Cantwell, Warner, Shaheen, Franken, Cardin, Murray, Carper, Cortez Masto, Markey and Wyden.