weekly letter

Dear Research Advocate: It is disappointing but not, sad to say, surprising that the FY20 budget process is starting off on shaky ground. Several reports this week reinforce what the president has previously asserted: his budget proposal will feature a 5% cut in non-defense spending. That’s likely not the worst of it. If that across-the board cut sits on top of the $55 billion overall reduction in non-defense discretionary spending required by the return of “sequestration” (shorthand for austerity level budget caps), the president may be proposing cuts of 15% or more to some, if not most, federal science agencies. (It is important to emphasize that the president’s budget amounts to a...
Dear Research Advocate: Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave his first public address at the AAAS Annual Meeting last Friday. He discussed the importance of taking stock of the entire research and development enterprise, in order to provide a clear picture of U.S. capabilities in a global context that features other nations “nipping at our heels,” and then, drawing on this assessment — as well as the enduring values of our nation — to plan for the future in ways we haven’t seen since the Vannevar Bush report, The Endless Frontier , appeared after WWII. Droegemeier also emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships...
Dear Research Advocate: The Congress is poised to pass, and the President appears ready to sign, a final FY19 spending package, averting another shutdown. Of note, the summary of the bill text indicates a $269 million (9%) increase for FDA, bringing its total FY19 budget to $3.08 billion, and a $307.6 million (4%) increase for NSF, bringing its total budget to $8.1 billion. Research!America joined with other science community leaders and Nobel Laureates earlier this week on a letter to members of Congress and the President, calling attention to the considerable negative effects of the recent partial shutdown as well as the need to avoid another costly impasse. There had been rumors that the...
Dear Research Advocate: During his State of the Union address, when President Trump laid out the goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S., it brought to mind the critical role research has played in making eradication even plausible. Years and years of research and development in both the public and private sectors have yielded once-unimaginable diagnostics, treatments, prevention, strategies and public health surveillance tools. Relegating this scourge to the history books – in the U.S. and also worldwide – is a worthy goal indeed. The president highlighted our nation’s legacy of making “giant leaps of science and discovery.” As we noted in our statement , we can’t assume progress...
Dear Research Advocate: As you know, there has been a cease fire in the shutdown and people are back to work, at least for now. Over the next two weeks, members of Congress will attempt to resolve the stalemate over funding for the President’s border wall, packaging it with the seven remaining FY 2019 spending bills, which include funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). I am feeling optimistic about a deal being struck, not least because Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, are leading the congressional...
Dear Research Advocate: The impact of the partial government shutdown – now entering its second month – continues to reverberate across the U.S., causing individual suffering and squandering progress at the expense of us all. Research!America signed on to two letters highlighting ways this shutdown is affecting the critical roles of FDA and NSF , not to mention the individuals impacted by their life-saving work. A picture (or graphic) is worth a thousand words: we have been using visuals via Twitter to make the case for ending the shutdown. I hope you’ll retweet and add your own voice to the conversation here . As we continue to push for a resolution to the shutdown, we must also work to...
Dear Research Advocate, The partial government shutdown continues, now at day 27. There are too many furloughed workers struggling to make ends meet, our nation’s parks and monuments are being ruined, research support by NSF has been put on hold, and drug approvals have slowed at FDA. For a run-down on the broadscale impact, see this USA Today article quoting ASBMB’s Ben Corb, and for a closer look at the toll the shutdown is taking on research, check out this article discussing the impact at the University of Wisconsin, emblematic of so many campuses nationwide. As a temporary patch, agency leaders have called back thousands of employees to work without pay. At the FDA, Commissioner Scott...
Dear Research Advocate: The government remains in a partial shutdown that began on December 22, taking a mounting toll on 800,000 federal workers, including those at FDA and NSF. The Alliance for a Stronger FDA has put together a “ Shutdown Toolkit ” detailing how this ongoing impasse is affecting us all. In a similar vein, the Coalition for National Science Funding has been sharing stories on social media that focus on how the shutdown is impacting NSF-funded research and programs, stifling discovery and sending a message of ‘no public confidence’ to aspiring young scientists. Clearly, the effects of the shutdown on research are multiple, disruptive and counterproductive. This New York...
Dear Research Advocate: In welcome news, last night the (departing) 115th Senate voted to confirm Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Research!America sent a thank you note acknowledging the roles Senate Commerce Committee leaders John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) played in advancing the nomination. This confirmation is a great beginning for the new year – and the most recent evidence that advocacy works! Tomorrow marks Research!America’s 30th anniversary. There is no question that over three decades, the medical and health research advocacy community has become more organized and more effective. While our community...
Dear Research Advocate: The government is now in its sixth day of a partial shutdown that has left agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) without the necessary resources to conduct their critical, multi-faceted work. Negotiations between the Congress and the White House reportedly remain at a stalemate. Last year, when the House and Senate voted to end a weeklong shutdown, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he hoped everyone could remember that "brinksmanship and hostage-taking do not work. They make bipartisan progress harder – not easier – to achieve." Let’s face it: no one is heeding that lesson now. The path that will truly...

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Sidebar Quote

You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter