CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

Himes leads letter requesting qualified Science Advisor

December 22, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04), along with nine other Members of Congress, sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump asking him to quickly appoint a qualified Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, usually known as the President’s Science Advisor.

“There is a fear and concern among the American people that the incoming Administration is going to disregard the advice and recommendations of the scientific community,” said Himes. “America’s strength has always stemmed from our ingenuity and commitment to fact-based decision making. We now face a situation where decisions that will affect the future of our country – in areas including climate change, national security, exploration, health and the economy – could be made by individuals who are not just lacking a scientific background, but are, in fact, aggressively anti-science. A qualified Science Advisor would be a key component in mitigating any ideologically-driven, destructive decisions.”

“A highly respected science advisor and an Office of Science and Technology Policy fully engaged in evidence-based policy decisions are essential to good government and protecting the health and safety of the American people,” added Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Science Advisor’s role in the White House since 1976 has been to guide the President determining effective ways to use science and technology to address major national challenges.

Joining Congressman Himes on the letter were Representatives Raúl Grijalva, Adam Schiff, Tim Ryan, Bill Foster, Betty McCollum, Jerry McNerney, Rick Larsen, Elizabeth Esty and David Cicilline.

The full letter is attached and below. 

 

December 22, 2016

 

Mr. Donald J. Trump

President-Elect

Trump Tower

725 Fifth Avenue

New York, New York 10022

Dear Mr. President-Elect:

As members of Congress who understand the importance of science to our economic strength, national security and efficient government, we write to respectfully request that you prioritize the appointment of a universally-respected scientist as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology within your first 100 days in office. 

When you take office in January, you will be charged with leading our nation’s response to global climate change, maintaining American economic competitiveness, keeping our citizenry safe, advancing energy independence, and curing disease. It is critical that you inform your decisions on these matters with scientific knowledge and expertise.

In 1976, Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to facilitate scientifically-sound policy decisions by the Executive Branch. The Assistant to the President for Science and Technology – known colloquially as the President’s Science Advisor – is responsible for leading this office. As a senior-level White House staff member, your science advisor’s responsibilities will be to assist you in determining effective ways to use science and technology to address major national challenges. More broadly, the OSTP he or she will oversee will provide scientific and technological input to agencies regarding rulemakings, budgets, interagency coordination, and other matters of consequence.

We must also remember that federal investments in scientific and technological research have emboldened our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and driven innovation for decades. Federal grants have enabled generations of scientists to make discoveries and breakthroughs that have helped the United States ascend to the top of the global economy, including life-saving vaccines, the MRI, laser technology, touchscreens, and GPS. To continue our path forward, we must recognize that scientific research is a force for good and merits our attention and investment.

In conclusion, we agree with our predecessors in the 94th Congress regarding the role of science in our government. We believe that it is imperative for you to choose, early in your administration, a nationally-respected individual with the appropriate engineering, scientific, management and policy skills.

Thank you for your consideration.