A Weekly Advocacy Message From Mary Woolley: So much to celebrate

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Research advocates played a critically important role in shaping and ultimately assuring passage of the 21st Century Cures (21st CC) legislation this week. It was a long road: advocacy is labor intensive, but it works. Read our full statement released after the Senate vote. Here is information on the bill and on the vote counts in the House and Senate. I hope you’ll use this editable email to thank your Senators and Representatives for voting yes (an overwhelming majority in both chambers of Congress did!).
The end of the 114th Congress is nigh; we expect that tomorrow the Senate will pass the House-approved Continuing Resolution (CR) to flat fund most government functions through April 28, 2017. You may have heard that a “sequestration” is possible. Under current law, if defense or non-defense spending exceeds the respective budget caps established for each spending category, then a sequestration, or across-the board budget cut, is automatically applied to ensure compliance with the caps. Analysts disagree on whether a sequestration will be required. Fortunately, any cut is expected to nominal - less than 0.2% of each agency’s budget.

The good news is that the CR includes initial funding for 21st CC: $352 million for the NIH initiatives, $20 million for FDA, and $500 million for states to respond to the opioid abuse crisis.

We have been closely engaged in offering qualified leaders to be considered for President-elect Trump’s leadership team, emphasizing the importance of choosing a Science Advisor who can help ensure the President has access to relevant information and expertise as he addresses science and technology related issues. There have been reports that Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) is under consideration to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a role that often coincides with that of science advisor. Representative Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD) has expressed interest in the position of NIH Director.  Meanwhile, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) sent a letter to President-elect Trump on Friday, December 2, urging him to retain Dr. Francis Collins as the director.

Guests at this afternoon’s dedication of the Paul G. Rogers Conference Room at Research!America included many who worked with “Mr. Health” to pass a long list of key health legislation, of which the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act and the National Cancer Act are just the tip of the iceberg! Others, myself included, worked with him after he left Congress on major initiatives like doubling the NIH budget over five years and significantly raising the profile of global health. I like to think that his can-do spirit was driving all of us here to work harder every day to assure passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.  If he were still alive, he would surely have been a leading voice for passage! We are grateful that so many members of the Rogers family were present to help us dedicate the conference room in honor of Paul’s vision for a nation enduringly committed to health and research for health.

I truly do hope you take a moment to savor the fact that after two+ years of fits and starts, advocacy campaigns and more advocacy campaigns, the 21st Century Cures Act will soon become law. Together, we did it!


Mary Woolley

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Without continued support for health research, many of the most promising young scientists, their ideas and a myriad of potentially life-changing scientific breakthroughs will vanish into oblivion.
Paul Marinec, PhD; University of California San Francisco