Senators Question Bush Administration’s Overhaul of Scientific Advisory Committees
In response to the Bush administration's plan to restructure scientific advisory committees that guide HHS on a wide range of health issues, Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) sent an "angry letter" to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, asking him to explain the "wholesale replacement" of experts on the panels, CongressDaily/AM reports (CongressDaily/AM, 9/20). Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that the administration has eliminated two committees with views seemingly "at odds with the president's views" and replaced almost all the members of a third committee with "handpicked choices" who have strong ties to the industries about which they will be advising. The committees, which operate in near anonymity, are "important because their interpretation of scientific data can sway an agency's approach to health risk and regulation" (California Healthline, 9/17). In the letter to Thompson, 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." Kennedy and Clinton also asked Thompson to provide a report explaining his plans for the scientific advisory committees (CongressDaily/AM, 9/20).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.