A weekly advocacy letter from Mary Woolley: Repeating myself for emphasis!

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

I am pleased to repeat myself when I report that it’s been another science-heavy week on Capitol Hill...and most, but not all, of the news is good. This morning, the Energy and Commerce Committee passed (51-0, a tremendous bipartisan victory) the 21st Century Cures Act with new mandatory funding for FDA, and with the NIH Innovation fund intact...and both are paid for!  

Representatives Upton (R-MI-06) and DeGette (D-CO-01) kept their word and managed, in an extraordinarily tight fiscal environment, to negotiate viable supplemental funding for federal agencies pivotal to medical progress. I am not saying the bill is perfect, nor arguing that stakeholders should support the bill whole cloth based on two of its many provisions.  But I am saying that these leaders deserve our gratitude for transcending partisan politics in service to Americans.  If you want to say thanks through Twitter: @RepFredUpton and @RepDianaDeGette.  The next step is a House vote, which is anticipated before the end of June.

The House passed HR 880, which would make the research and development tax credit permanent.  The bill is not paid for, which means it will be difficult to secure Senate passage and the President’s signature.  Difficult, but not impossible.  More to come on how to get this long overdue policy change across the finish line. 

Speaking of the Senate, the new Senate NIH caucus held a kick-off briefing featuring NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and several IC directors.  Click here for the current list of members. If you see one of your Senators on the list, please call or email to convey your thanks. If they are MIA, ask them to join!  Please get in touch if we can assist in your outreach, and take a look at Dr. Maria Freire’s excellent commentary on the need to translate supportive rhetoric into votes for increased NIH support. 

The bad news: the House passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, featuring micromanagement of the National Science Foundation, including arbitrary cuts to social science and economics research. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX-21) wrote a commentary on the reasoning behind these cuts that appears to rely on the false premise that policymakers must pit science against science in order to be fiscally responsible. Other nations are spending more (investing more now can prove the most fiscally responsible course) on science across the board, using the playbook developed decades ago by the U.S. Why are we abandoning it?

On that topic, former Congressman, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Research!America Board member Rush Holt coauthored an opinion piece with George Washington University President Steven Knapp that calls for an end to sequestration and a recommitment to U.S. R&D. Well said!

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley
  

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor