Velazquez Amendments Protect Science and Climate Change Research from Political Censorship
Washington, DC – The House has approved two amendments authored by Representative Velázquez aimed at preventing interference in scientific research conducted by federal agencies.
“It has become painfully clear that the Trump Administration consistently puts politics ahead of science, undermining research and benefits to the American people,” noted Velázquez. “Its brazen attempts to discredit climate change, and its unconscionable failure to adequately respond to the coronavirus crisis are all part of this pattern. We must stand up for scientific integrity, even as the administration does not.”
Velázquez’s first amendment prevents funding from being used to reject grant applications that use the terms “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based”, or “science-based”. In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided explicit instructions to employees to not use these words in any official budget documents. This “word ban” creates substantial barriers to conducting critical research for vulnerable communities by limiting potential funding or misrepresenting data to avoid these words.
“The policy recommendation that took place in 2017 had a clear goal of excluding vulnerable populations from federally funded health and other research that could benefit them,” said Velázquez. “The direction given to employees of the CDC was not only targeting, but discriminatory. We must stop this Administration from using federally funded research to advance their hateful agenda of disenfranchising some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Rising sea levels have become a greater concern in recent years, as climate change has begun to show an impact on coastal communities across the nation. While studies that monitor these changes have existed for years, the Trump administration has sought to terminate research that continues monitoring these fluctuations. Velázquez’s second amendment seeks to protect funding applications from rejection due to the use of the term “sea level rise”, referencing a precedent established at the Department of the Interior. Department of the Interior officials asked scientists to remove any references to climate change and sea level rise.
“Our nation needs to be prepared for an overall increase in climate-related disasters,” said Velázquez. “We saw firsthand through Hurricane Sandy what sort of destruction can be brought upon New York’s shores. Curtailing research in this area would mean our coastal cities will be less prepared for rising sea levels brought on by a warming climate, putting millions of American lives at risk. We must not let our scientific research be hijacked by Donald Trump and his climate denying allies.”
Velázquez’s amendments were attached H.R. 7617, a broader government funding bill. That legislation, including the Congresswoman’s two provisions, passed the House and must now be considered by the Senate.