A weekly advocacy message from Mary Woolley: The clock starts now

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

The President released his FY17 budget on Tuesday, launching this year’s appropriations process. Unfortunately, his proposed budget falls short of expectations and far short of putting adequate resources to work to find solutions for what ails us. Cuts to the baseline budgets of NIH and CDC, and flat funding for FDA's drug ($492 million) and biologics ($215 million) programs are proposed. While temporary, mandatory funding is provided for several important initiatives -- $755 million for the cancer moonshot initiative, $107 million for precision medicine, and $1.8 billion to address the Zika virus, this nation cannot sustain a robust research infrastructure with temporary investments alone.
The President’s budget is not all bad news, as it proposes that NSF receive just over $100 million in new discretionary funding to reach $7.56 billion, as well as $400 million in mandatory funding. AHRQ would receive a $41.2 million increase, bringing its total budget to $469.7 million. Read our statement on the President’s budget and sample press coverage.

Attention now (thankfully) turns to the appropriations process in Congress. The deadlines for members of Congress to submit their funding priorities to the Appropriations Committees are mostly set for next month, but it's not too soon to let your voice be heard. Contact your representatives now and ask them to include robust funding for key science agencies in their appropriations requests. 
The Senate HELP Committee “marked up” and unanimously passed the first set of Innovation bills this week, addressing a wide range of topics including Health IT, neurological diseases, and support for young researchers. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) are staunchly committed to advancing the full slate of innovation bills and mandatory funding to ensure NIH and FDA can fulfill the goals underlying the Innovation Initiative. If one of your Senators sits on the Senate HELP Committee, please call or send them a message to reinforce the importance of the Innovations/Cures initiative. If you’re not a constituent, use social media to weigh in-- volume of interest is important, and social media makes it easy. Here is a resource that includes the emails, phone numbers and Twitter handles of the HELP Committee members, along with draft email text and suggested tweets.

Don’t forget to register for the 2016 Research!America Annual Meeting on March 16. I hope you will also join us that evening for our Advocacy Awards Reception and Dinner; registration is now open. The distinguished list of honorees includes (but is certainly not limited to!) Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Former NIH and NCI Director and Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus.  

Lastly, New Hampshire primaries this week resulted in big wins for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. All the candidates are now turning their attention to the quickly approaching debates and the many primaries that follow in short order. The next Democratic debate is tonight on PBS (at a top research institution!) in Milwaukee, WI, and the next Republican debate is this Saturday in Greenville, SC on CBS News; both start at 9 pm EST. Make sure to tweet your questions for the #DemDebate (@NewsHour, @gwenifill & @JudyWoodruff and the #GOPDebate (@CBSNews, @JDickerson, @MajorCBS & @KimStrassel using #Campaign4Cures and join our Campaign today!


Mary Woolley

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You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter