Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined 26 of their Senate colleagues in introducing legislation to protect scientists from political interference.
Introduction of the Scientific Integrity Act comes on the heels of efforts in the opening days of the Donald Trump administration to bar scientists from discussing their research with the public, attempts to single out scientists for their work and ongoing threats to have scientific publications reviewed and edited by political appointees.
“In the opening days of the Trump administration, we have seen deeply concerning efforts to suppress scientific information, and attempts to discourage scientific research that may be politically inconvenient,” said Carper. “The thousands of scientists across the federal government represent some of the brightest, most well respected experts in the world and the mere thought of having political interests stifle or interfere with their apolitical, objective work is simply unacceptable. This legislation takes important steps to insulate our scientists and their work from partisan attacks and ensures the open communication of scientific information to the public.”
“It’s a sad reflection of the Trump administration’s statements and actions that my colleagues and I have to introduce this bill at all,” said Coons. “Scientific research conducted at universities, in private labs and — yes — even by federal agencies makes us stronger, healthier, safer and more secure. The only thing that science threatens is a political agenda of some that is based on fear, not facts. I’m proud to continue leading the fight in defense of some of America’s most dedicated scientists, technologists and engineers and the important work they do to make America great.”
Among other things, the Scientific Integrity Act 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.
— 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 Trump and Congress to preserve scientific integrity.