Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Government Accountability Office on Monday agreed to investigate alleged political interference with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
The independent government watchdog responded to a request by Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Patty Murray of Washington and Gary Peters of Michigan to review whether the "scientific integrity and communications policies" of the FDA and CDC have been violated during COVID-19 pandemic.
"The GAO's decision to conduct an independent audit is a good first step towards making sure that guidance coming from federal agencies is based on science and facts, not on the Trump administration's political agenda or the president's whims," the senators said.
Last month, the three senators sent the request to the watchdog amid reports of "persistent and widespread political interference in both agencies' COVID-19 response."
The senators on Monday cited an incident in September in which President Donald Trump said an FDA plan to tighten study requirements to better ensure a coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective "sounds like a political move."
They also cited reports that the White House pressured the CDC into "downplaying risks" associated with children returning to in-person learning at schools, and that Health and Human Services political appointees reviewed and potentially altered or delayed weekly scientific reports issued by the agency about the pandemic.
"Health and science experts should be able to do their jobs to steer us through crises like this pandemic without political interference and we must ensure that the American people receive fact-based information so that they can make well-informed decisions for themselves and their families amidst this national public health emergency," the senators said.