Senators Continue Criticism of Bush Administration Nominations for Government Advisory Committee
Several congressional Democrats are criticizing the Bush administration's nominations for positions on government advisory committees, saying that candidates are being chosen for their "ideology and ties to industry" rather than their "scientific expertise," the New York Times reports. The controversy centers on the criteria HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson is using to restructure several scientific advisory panels, which can have major influence on federal health policy (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 10/10). Last month, the Washington Post reported that the administration has eliminated two committees that took positions at odds with the president's views and replaced almost all the members of a third committee with choices who have strong ties to the industries about which they will be advising (California Healthline, 9/17). That story prompted Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) to write a letter to Thompson asking him to explain the restructuring. In the letter, the senators said they are "deeply concerned by allegations that the changes underway are driven more by ideology than by science," adding that Thompson should "reconsider these decisions and ... continue to appoint" experts who will "truly serve in the public interest" (California Healthline, 9/20).
Yesterday, Kennedy specifically questioned the nomination of Dr. W. David Hager for the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. According to Kennedy, Hager has reportedly refused to prescribe contraceptives to married women and has "recommended Scripture readings to treat premenstrual syndrome," States News/Boston Globe reports (Geraghty, States News/Boston Globe, 10/10). Meanwhile, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) released a report yesterday criticizing the administration for nominating a pediatrician who has advised the lead industry to a CDC lead poisoning prevention panel, the Times reports (New York Times, 10/10). Kennedy said yesterday that by "stacking these important committees with right-wing ideologues instead of respected scientists, the administration puts the health and well-being of average Americans at risk" (States News/Boston Globe, 10/10). Thompson denied that the administration uses a "litmus test," saying, "We will continue to recruit the best scientific minds to serve" (New York Times, 10/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.