A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: What FAA furloughs mean for science…


Dear Research Advocate,

Media attention to the impact of sequestration-forced furloughs at the FAA, causing airport delays, has put both Congress and the administration on the defensive. Senate Majority Leader Reid has introduced legislation to delay sequestration until a broader deficit reduction solution can be negotiated, and there is a Republican-led effort to prevent the closure of towers and stop the furloughs. It is unclear where these efforts will lead, but there clearly is power in showcasing concrete damage to our citizenry and our economy as a way to illustrate the larger problem: Sequestration isn’€™t just a delayed flight issue, it is huge, strategic mistake for our nation. More of us must call on Congress to dispense with Band-Aid discussions and negotiate a deficit reduction solution that encompasses tax reform and entitlements and restores crucial discretionary funding to the many government functions that are being senselessly compromised by sequestration. Our imperative is to showcase research as a prime example of a public priority strangled by sequestration and tight caps on discretionary spending. We must work to put damage to medical and health research funding in the headlines and for advocates to be seen and heard on Capitol Hill and around the nation. A diversity of research advocacy organizations are working to initiate joint, in-district advocacy in selected districts during the Memorial Day recess. We urge your participation; the larger the numbers involved, the stronger the impact. Please click here to access an information form you can use to let us know if your organization may be able to participate. You can email the form to edehoney@researchamerica.org.

Research advocates have been continuing to press our message on the Hill. This week, the Coalition for Health Funding met with 55 freshman offices to explain the role of discretionary funding, the pool used to fund medical research and other critical spending priorities, including the agencies that support the health continuum. Young scientists who joined the group expressed their concerns about the decline in funding as they embark on their careers. The Alzheimer’€™s Association also held its Hill day this week, with more than 900 advocates reminding Congress about the importance of medical research for alleviating the growing burden of this devastating disease and the ruinous financial costs that come with it.

There are other dots to connect and stories we must tell regarding the value and impact of research, especially as Congress raises questions about the effectiveness of the peer-review system and the value of social science research. These developments are tracked in an article from ScienceInsider covering a hearing held by the House Science Committee. While oversight is certainly an appropriate role for Congress, attempts to demonize or micromanage science turn oversight into overreach. At a time when sequestration has already weakened our scientific enterprise, we must fend off any proposals that would curtail beneficial research or disrupt the pace of science and innovation.

These are issues that may arise in the upcoming reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, legislation that lays the blueprint for continued support of basic research at NSF, NIST and DOE Office of Science. Join Research!America in signing on to a guiding principles document, which will be sent to Congress as they craft this vital legislation.


Mary Woolley

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Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers