Boston (April 14, 2020) – Two days ago, President Donald Trump retweeted a call to “#FireFauci”, referring to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease specialist and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). As currently written, the law allows the U.S. President to fire for any reason Directors of the national research institutes and national centers that are parts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To address this deficiency, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) will introduce The National Institutes of Health Director Protection Act, legislation that would ensure that these Directors — officials such as Dr. Fauci – are removable only for malfeasance, neglect of office, or incapacity – not for having differing views on policy or expressing positions that are politically inconvenient. Similar protections exist for the heads of other independent agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security Administration. These protections prevent presidential politics from excessively influencing an administrator’s performance.
“Dr. Fauci has become the most trusted voice of the science community in responding to this pandemic. He is not afraid to speak truth to power,” said Senator Markey. “But Donald Trump has an allergy to both – science and the truth. Our response to the coronavirus crisis must be based on science, on data, and on the truth. We cannot allow Donald Trump to silence Dr. Fauci or any other government scientists. Now more than ever, we must listen to our public health, medical, and scientific experts. If Donald Trump doesn’t like science-based evidence because it doesn’t support his partisan, fact-free view of the world, he cannot be permitted to silence the truth-tellers. This legislation will close the hole in the law that currently allows the President to fire a National Institutes of Health Director such as Dr. Fauci for any reason. Educating the public about the science and the facts that will save lives is not, and should never be, a firing offense.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
First appointed to his position in 1984, Dr. Fauci has led the agency, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under six U.S. presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan. President George W. Bush once said he had “absolute confidence” in Dr. Fauci and other health and scientific experts now leading the national response to the coronavirus outbreak. President Bush awarded Dr. Fauci the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.