Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: We can’t ignore the President’s budget

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

The President released his proposed budget for FY21 earlier this week, kicking off the federal budget season. The President’s budget is a statement of priorities, even if it has no force of law (it’s the Congress that is charged in the Constitution with the ‘power of the purse’), and it rightly gets considerable attention. 

We think it’s deeply damaging for our nation that a higher priority isn’t being placed on science.  Among the counterproductive proposals in the budget is a more than 7% cut to NIH and a double-digit cut to the CDC. Our colleague Jenny was quoted in Bloomberg Government as noting that, as underscored by the coronavirus outbreak, “the most important thing is to have a consistently robust public health system so that we can be prepared for any public health emergency that comes our way.” 

The President’s proposed cuts to our nation's health and science agencies are not only short-sighted but out of line with what we know about Americans’ preferences, based on our very recently commissioned survey: respondents strongly favor increased funding for research to prevent, cure, and treat diseases, sooner rather than later. It is notable in this survey that support is strong across parties and among independents.  

Both Senate and House leaders have indicated that the President’s call for cutting overall non-defense spending is a nonstarter, but we still have a steep uphill climb given tight budget parameters for FY21. Click here to weigh in now with your members of Congress. Most media attention is on the Presidential primaries, but remember: but remember: every House seat is up for election along with 35 Senate seats. Members are listening closely to their constituents. This is a year when members in both houses are listening closely to their constituents.

Research helps point the way to solving some of our most pressing health problems. One such problem is the alarming rise in maternal mortality in the United States. The NIH recently put out a call for comments on its proposed research initiative to identify cutting-edge, innovative, and collaborative approaches to reduce maternal mortality. The deadline is February 21, 2020. We will be posting our own comments shortly and encourage you to do so as well. 

There are many reasons for being an advocate for research: pushing back against harmful cuts that will jeopardize the hope research represents for patients everywhere; helping ensure that science and scientists have every chance to succeed; turbo-charging our nation’s economy and prosperity and assuring our security; and encouraging more champions among elected officials, people who will reach across the aisle in partnership to make research and innovation a top priority.

We will be highlighting two such champions at our Annual Advocacy Awards dinner on March 11 with the presentation of the Whitehead Award, named in honor of our founder, Edwin C. “Jack” Whitehead. This award salutes leaders who serve in public office and prioritize the advancement of medical and health research and, in their work, encourage others to support science. Our 2020 Whitehead awardees, Senator Mike Enzi (R-AZ) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), will be honored for their enduring leadership to support public and private R&D benefitting us all. Get to know more about them and join us on March 11! Sponsorships and individual tickets for our 2020 Advocacy Awards dinner are still available. Email Katie with questions at kgoode@researchamerica.org

If your organization is a Research!America member, please participate in our upcoming alliance meeting next Thursday, February 20, 2020 from 2-3 p.m. ET, either in person at Research!America headquarters or by phone. RSVP by emailing Jacqueline at jlagoy@researchamerica.org for a calendar invite. Guest speakers include: Heather Pierce from AAMC to discuss developments related to “foreign influence” in regard to research and Rob Smith with Capital Alpha Partners to discuss congressional and administration proposals in regards to drug pricing, development, and access. We will also discuss other policy and advocacy topics including appropriations and 21st Century Cures 2.0.

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