Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Vote to #FundScience

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Super Tuesday is just days away. While media is largely focused on the Presidential candidates, candidates for Congress will also be selected. As we head into the general election, Research!America will be launching a non-partisan initiative to inform all candidates about where voters stand on medical and scientific research. Earlier this month, we released data from our January survey demonstrating widespread, bipartisan support for more research funding to address the many critical health issues facing Americans today. More poll data from our January survey will be online shortly; watch for it, and put it to use!  

We all think it’s important that candidates know where voters stand on our issues. Being visible as an engaged voter is important, too. I urge you to attend town halls, rallys, and other events to ask questions about research and science, and have meaningful discussions with other voters. We are pleased to hear some candidates already talking about science, including the value of basic research and the importance of strong federal support for our science agencies. 

The coronavirus is in the news as well as on the tongues of policymakers and would-be policymakers. We strongly support the work of the CDC, NIH, FDA, and BARDA as well as the private sector and the scores of researchers, clinicians and other public health professionals around the country working 24/7 to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. 

The call for emergency appropriations doesn’t replace the need for year-round, robust public health funding. The CDC budget has been unacceptably low for too long and, because of repeated continuing resolutions, it hasn’t been timely either. Assuring strong support for public health means that the infrastructure is solidly in place to respond to predictable challenges like seasonal flu, as well as providing a stable platform on which to quickly leverage extra support when it’s needed in emergencies.  

We are taking action -- and so can you -- to boost the CDC budget and ensure the funding is delivered by Congress on time. Last week, we joined dozens of organizations urging Congress to provide $8.3B to the CDC for fiscal year 2021, an increase of $400 million over the current year.  

We are currently circulating a group sign-on letter to Congressional leadership urging completion of the FY21 appropriations process in “regular order” -- that is, no more continuing resolutions holding up critical funding to the CDC and other research agencies. You can add your organization to the letter here by March 4, 2020. (Note that debate around the coronavirus supplemental may necessitate delaying when we send the letter -- we’ll let you know if the deadline is extended!)

We are also focused on ensuring NIH remains a priority for Congress. Click on this Action Alert to encourage your representative to show their support for at least $44.7B in FY21 for NIH by signing onto an important bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to the Appropriations Committee. Note that this is an individual, not group advocacy opportunity and also note the short deadline of March 6, 2020.

Yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences, in partnership with the Kavli and Sloan Foundations, convened a day-long symposium to mark the 75th anniversary of “The Endless Frontier” and consider the way forward. The implementation of the report resulted in -- among many outcomes -- the establishment of the National Science Foundation. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) spoke of how the contributions of science to the national interest “exceeded the wildest dreams” of President Roosevelt when he commissioned the report authored by Dr. Vannevar Bush; with the next 75 years in mind, he spoke of introducing legislation to strategize for a science-driven future in today’s world. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) used a sports metaphor to describe the difference in the challenge today as contrasted to 75 years ago, commenting that these days the U.S. is “a team in a much better league” as we face the challenge of global competitiveness. You can access the webcast of the excellent program here.

Vannevar Bush inspired many young scientists; if you are an early career scientist or know one, the Lasker Foundation is providing an opportunity for you to honor a role model or mentor who has made an impact on you. The 2020 Essay Contest is open through March 31. 

Limited sponsorships and individual tickets for our March 11 Advocacy Awards dinner are still available, but you should act now. Email Katie Goode at kgoode@researchamerica.org for more information. Get to know this year’s recipients through our website Q&As. Learn more about Michael M.E. Johns, MD, recipient of the Herbert Pardes Family Award for National Leadership in Advocacy for Research.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.
Abraham Lincoln