Amid the furor over the Trump administration’s confounding gag orders to restrict what federal agencies can tell the public, a leaked memo reveals an even more insidious attempt at preventing federal health experts from communicating with members of Congress. Issued on Inauguration Day, the memo explicitly directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to cease communicating with or responding to requests from elected lawmakers. New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone, ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the Oversight Committee, criticized this crackdown as a violation of federal law. The two Democratic congressmen sent a letter to the White House citing several federal statutes, most notably the Whistle Blower Protection Act. Federal agencies are ultimately accountable to the American people, and information on their work must be shared with the public rather than silenced based on the whims of whichever politician happens to occupy the Oval Office.
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