Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: The Clock is Winding Down

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

If you weren’t able to join us for the National Health Research Forum, you can watch the recordings from the Forum platform. The popular short videos from federal officials, members of Congress, and leaders from across the research and public health ecosystem are posted on our YouTube channel, where all the recordings will soon appear. CNN, C-SPAN, and PBS (among other media outlets) covered several sessions; watch them here now:

Some overarching themes and powerful thinking from panelists and speakers:

  • “Good trouble” (to channel the late Rep. John Lewis: making waves to secure societal change) is needed to break the cycle of social and healthcare obstacles that breed racial and ethnic health disparities. 

  • Beyond the normative case for it, research shows that we can save society money with a Marshall Plan-style approach — a national commitment to invest in the populations that are most disadvantaged.

  • Our nation’s “boom and bust” approach to public health and emergency preparedness has always been wasteful and dangerous. It must end. 

  • Scientists have an important role to play in depoliticizing the pandemic and other societal challenges. By sticking to the facts, being clear about what we know and don’t know, and explaining why evolving knowledge can lead to changes in policy, you can help perpetuate communication that serves the public good rather than any of the ever-present political or ideological agendas. 

On Capitol Hill: The House majority is expected to introduce a Continuing Resolution (CR) as soon as tomorrow that would flat-fund the government through — it is rumored — mid-December, February, or March of 2021. None of those dates is a win for our nation. Why now, of all times, are decision-makers kicking the can down the road? 

Regarding the prospects for an emergency funding package, the odds of success shrink as September 30, 2020 draws near (Congress is widely expected to leave town in October for the final election push), but White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senate Appropriations Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) both asserted this week that there is reason to hope. 

Further, the House Problem Solvers Caucus proposed a framework that could be used as the foundation for a final emergency spending package. It’s at crunch times like these when advocacy can do the most good. For that reason, please (!) spend a few minutes executing these advocacy asks:

  1. Push for a supplemental spending package. Are you on Twitter? Because email systems in Congress are typically set to accept constituent emails only, the easiest way to reach Congressional Leadership is by tweeting at them. Click here for a suggested tweet directed toward House and Senate Leadership.

  2. Fight for the RISE Act. Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (S.4286) by voice vote. This bipartisan legislation would authorize $26 billion to address the corrosive effects of COVID-19 on research funding. Senate leadership will now decide whether to take the next important next step for this bill: a vote by the full Senate.  

This morning, we sent a letter to Senate Leaders urging them to advance the RISE Act. Use this editable email to encourage your Senators to weigh in with Leadership on the importance of this vote. The clock is winding down: take time now to advocate!

More Advocacy in Action: Mark your calendar for the 2020 Annual NFID Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference on October 1, 2020, from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. ET via webcast. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases hosts this “Leading By Example” program to highlight the importance — it’s never been more so — of getting vaccinated against the flu. Your organization can join NFID’s effort by signing on to this pledge.

Monday, September 21, 2020, is World Alzheimer’s Day. For details on this devastating disease and the promise research holds, download our fact sheet on Alzheimer’s Disease. You can access our entire fact sheet library here.

We are resuming our alliance member meetings next week. If your organization is a Research!America member, register here for a webinar, September 23, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. ET focused on the 2020 election outlook and ways to cultivate science champions via Research!America’s candidate/voter engagement initiative.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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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