Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Peter Welch (VT-AL) and Gerry Connolly (VA-11) introduced legislation to protect Dr. Anthony Fauci and other directors of National Research Institutes and Centers from being fired for politically-motivated reasons. As Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Fauci has been vital in the effort to provide timely, accurate and scientifically sound advice regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). President Trump, meanwhile, has rushed to encourage states to reopen, repeatedly disagreed with Dr. Fauci’s expert advice, and alluded to firing Dr. Fauci, even retweeting a call to “#FireFauci” on April 12.
The National Institutes of Health Director Protection Act would ensure that heads of National Research Institutes like the NIH can only be removed for malfeasance, neglect of office, or incapacity – not because they disagree with the president. Similar protections already exist for the heads of other independent agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security Administration.
“The guidance of health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci and others is vital in our fight to effectively combat and overcome the current pandemic,” said Rep. Lynch. “Unfortunately, we live in a time when fact-based decision making and robust scientific analysis are constantly under attack by the Trump administration and logic and reason are deliberately discarded or distorted to mislead the American people. President Trump’s recent reprisals against our dedicated Inspectors General and government watchdogs further compel Congress to remove his ability to retaliate against nonpartisan public health officials for telling the truth. The sound and truthful advice of our health experts - free from intimidation or partisan political considerations - is necessary to guide our nation through this unprecedented crisis and this bill will ensure they are adequately protected.”
“President Trump has repeatedly attacked Dr. Fauci for offering his best scientific recommendations to the American people,” said Rep. Welch. “I am concerned that Dr. Fauci and other experts, working to get us through this terrible pandemic, could be fired simply for telling the truth. President Trump’s political purge of dedicated public servants cannot be allowed to reach the public health experts working around the clock to keep us safe. This bill would protect the scientists fighting this deadly disease and allow them to continue to give the American people sound scientific advice. Congress must act before Trump removes these experts from their posts
“Directors of the national research institutes and national centers within the National Institutes of Health form the backbone of our response to public health crises,” said Rep. Connolly. “Absent adequate leadership from the White House during this pandemic, the American people have relied on the expertise of officials like Dr. Fauci for guidance and accurate information. We cannot allow these officials to fall victim to President Trump’s war on civil servants. Preserving their independence from political interference is paramount to our efforts to defeat this virus.”
First appointed to his position in 1984, Dr. Fauci has led NIAID, which is part of the NIH, under six U.S. presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan. President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Fauci the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.). A copy of the legislation can be found here.
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