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Dear Research Advocate: After Tuesday’s election, we may or may not know the exact composition of the 116th Congress, as there are likely to be some very, very close races. But there is little doubt that the picture will be clearer than it is now when it comes to the policy dynamics next year -- and that is what our post-election briefing on Thursday, November 8 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EST at AAAS (1200 New York Ave, NW in Washington, DC) is all about. Register now! If history is any guide, the magnitude of change in Congress will affect the prospects for completing unfinished business during the lame-duck session of Congress; not surprisingly, the more turnover, the harder it is to build...
Dear Research Advocate: News broke this week that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is struggling with a still-rising death toll due to Ebola, claiming more than 139 lives since July and spreading beyond the DRC. Meanwhile in the U.S., public health experts are working day and night to understand and overcome acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), now affecting children in 22 or more states. Ebola and AFM are public health crises today. It is predictable that there will be more unexpected crises on top of ongoing threats like the opioid epidemic, the increasing prevalence of obesity, chronic diseases and more. Which is why it defies common sense that investment in global health and in our...
Dear Research Advocate: In welcome news, Congress is making progress on FY19 appropriations. The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed work on all 12 bills and Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said that the full Senate may consider a package containing the Defense and Labor-HHS bills during the week of July 23rd. We can’t count our chickens before they hatch, but this is good news indeed, considering the Senate has not passed the LHHS bill before fiscal year-end since 2007. Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Labor-HHS spending bill, which includes $38.3 billion for NIH, an additional $1.25 billion over the FY18 level, an additional $427M...
Dear Research Advocate: Out this week: new survey data from the Pew Research Center reaffirming that Americans are strongly supportive of federal investments in medical, engineering and basic science research, with overall agreement at the 80% level that these investments ‘pay off.’ Of concern, however, is that voters who identify as strongly conservative are significantly more likely to say that “private investment will ensure that enough scientific progress is made, even without government investment.” All of us in the stakeholder community have more work to do to convey that when the government supports research, all parties -- private sector, government and the public -- stand to...
Dear Research Advocate: A special thanks to Grace Stuntz and Nick Bath of the Senate HELP Committee for meeting with Research!America alliance members on Tuesday to discuss the committee’s 2018 research-related priorities, among which opioid response legislation is front and center. The HELP Committee has passed a bipartisan bill and is working on determining likely amendments in anticipation of a floor vote; the House Energy & Commerce Committee hopes to approve a package and secure House passage by Memorial Day. The opioid bills in both Houses reflect the diversity of research disciplines (and associated funding) needed to overcome complex public health threats like this one; for...
Dear Research Advocate, The Research!America 2019 Advocacy Awards nominations are now open! Act now to nominate the stellar advocates you want to recognize for outstanding leadership in medical, public health and other scientific research. The awards will be presented at our dinner on March 13, 2019. My recent letters have mentioned the possibility of the president sending a rescission package to Congress. At this point, it’s more a matter of when, not if he will request billions in “clawbacks” of already appropriated funds. It’s up to Congress to accept or reject the request. Think about it: for several fiscal years now, federal agencies have not had the benefit of fully functioning...
Dear Research Advocate: Research!America was proud to be one of more than 100 groups involved in last weekend’s second March for Science, which took place in over 500 locations worldwide. I had the opportunity to speak at the terrific pre-March rally hosted by AAAS and to talk to the Washington Post and several other media outlets -- it won’t surprise you to know that I reinforced the need for science and scientists to be more visible, not just once a year at the March, but on a regular basis. It comes down to this: to influence a conversation, an opinion, a policy or all three -- it is necessary to engage; it’s so important to regularly say and convey to the American public, “I Work for...
Dear Research Advocate: Is a rescission proposal to cut funding from the recently enacted FY18 omnibus appropriations bill possible? Unfortunately, we can’t rule it out, despite indications from some House and Senate Republicans that they would not vote to backpedal from approved spending. But, we have also been hearing that agencies are having to plan for a possible rescission and a recent article in Politico quotes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) saying “it’s worth a discussion.” I urge you to join that discussion. Backtracking on support for science is not a productive way forward for a nation proud to set the world’s global economic high-water mark. Whether you took action...
First, thank you for helping us thank “Labor-H” appropriations subcommittee leaders and their respective staff members for their crucial role in securing robust FY18 funding to drive faster medical and public health progress. The final letter was 154 signatures strong… a well-deserved show of appreciation! (Almost) unbelievably, however, the FY18 funding saga continues. Even though the FY18 omnibus has been signed into law, news broke this week that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Trump are discussing whether to pursue cuts to the non-defense discretionary funding in it. Under a provision in a 1974 law, the president would formally propose these cuts, or “...
Dear Research Advocate, Almost 30 years ago to the day, April 2, 1988, President Ronald Reagan delivered a radio address to the nation on the federal government’s role in scientific research. “We cannot know where scientific research will lead. The consequences and spin-offs are unknown and unknowable until they happen. But one thing is certain: If we don't explore, others will, and we'll fall behind.” The fact that the FY18 omnibus cites concerns that “China and 34 other competitors are outpacing the United States in terms of research spending,” demonstrates that President Reagan’s words ring true today. Our job now, to paraphrase former Congressman and Research!America Board Member Bart...

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana