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House Science Committee Passes Scientific Integrity Act and Bipartisan Report on Politicization of Government Science

October 23, 2019

Last week, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology passed the Scientific Integrity Act (H.R. 1709). The legislation would require some federal research agencies to develop and follow clear principles designed to protect research data, scientists and the research they carry out from political influence. Several federal agencies have already adopted such policies following a 2010 executive order. If enacted, this legislation would turn the presidential directive into law.

Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) offered an amendment to remove language that would have given government scientists authority to accept media requests without prior clearance.  The amendment passed, gaining the support of Rep. Lucas and several other Republicans. The committee voted, 25 to six, to advance the legislation.

Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI) has introduced a similar version of the bill in the Senate and is awaiting action by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The bipartisan support in the House improves the bill’s prospects in the Senate.

Earlier this month, the Brennen Center for Justice, a nonpartisan group of former government officials and policy experts, released Proposals for Reform. The report listed examples of the politicization of government science and research and the breakdown of processes for filling key government positions, as well as proposed policy solutions to address these concerns.

This was the second report of a National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy. The first, released in October 2018, focused on the erosion of the norms and practices protecting the rule of law and ethical conduct in government.

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