Mary Woolley's Weekly Letter: Your advocacy made a difference
Dear Research Advocate,
Our guest author this week is Jenny Luray, Research!America’s Senior Advisor.
Earlier today, the Senate passed -- by a vote of 67-28, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 to raise the budget caps in Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 and suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021. As Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) worked to round up the votes, Research!America sent a letter of support.
The President is expected to sign the bill. Happily, this brings the threat of sequestration and massive discretionary spending cuts to an end. Your advocacy made a difference as you weighed in, time and time again, with your Members of Congress, exhorting them to raise the caps. Please consider tweeting a “thank you” to the Senators who voted for passage.
Now strong science and research funding is in closer reach but not yet assured. Here’s the wrinkle: as expected, the overall increase for FY20 in the bipartisan budget deal is lower than the increase assumed by the House when it took action on its appropriations bills. This means more advocacy will be needed by the Research!America alliance in order to secure the highest possible funding for medical and public health research when the Senate marks up its appropriations bills next month. Senate Appropriations Committee staff will be working hard to prepare drafts for Members to consider after they return to Washington on September 9. Rumor has it, the Labor-HHS bill (which funds NIH, CDC, and AHRQ), could be among the first considered. Stay tuned for future action steps!
If you are attending meetings with your Members of Congress this month while they are in your district, I encourage you to use our new cardiovascular fact sheet in your advocacy efforts. Did you know every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a heart attack? This striking statistic exemplifies the need for more research and highlights why Congress must finalize their FY20 appropriations process with strong research funding.
Research!America is pleased to announce a request for proposals aimed at graduate student- and postdoc-led science policy groups. Started in 2018, the Civic Engagement Microgrant Program supports projects designed by students to connect directly with public officials and community leaders regarding the importance of scientific discovery and research. Plus, a new “Science Meets Science” component this year encourages creative cross-disciplinary partnerships between STEM and social scientists. In remarks to last year’s microgrant recipients at UC San Francisco, Dr. Keith Yamamoto, Vice Chancellor and a Research!America board member said, “creating this discourse between the scientific community and the public is part of our responsibility as scientists to inform the public of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.” Thanks to the Rita Allen Foundation for their continued support.
Speaking of graduate students, women now earn 51% of biology PhDs, yet are still under-represented among tenured faculty and the ranks of science leadership. How we overcome this gender gap is one of the timely topics extraordinary leaders from across the R&D ecosystem will explore at our National Health Research Forum on September 5. We are excited to announce Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will be joining us. Registration is now open! Hope to see you there!