A Weekly Advocacy Message From Mary Woolley: Wise Heads and Some Rethinking Required

Mary Woolley

Dear Research Advocate,

Thanks for your indulgence; I’m afraid we’ve been flooding your inbox over the past few days. Most recently, we sent an email moving up the deadline for signing on to a letter to congressional leaders urging them to refrain from passing another Continuing Resolution (CR), and to instead complete their work on FY17 appropriations. We sent that letter out tonight, proximal to today’s announcement by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) that he will in fact pursue a CR that would flat-fund government until March of next year (further delaying, and potentially squandering, any increase in funding for NIH and other health agencies in FY17). While his announcement is not the last word, it means a CR may be a fait accompli. Even if our letter does not change the trajectory of the appropriations process, tonight more than 260 prominent organizations and individuals will remind policymakers that we have no plans to remain silent or toe the line when policymaking goes awry. It is important -- and will continue to be important -- to stand up, not down.

Another high-priority item for the lame duck session, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), is completing work on the Cures package. The Washington Post Editorial Board encouraged Congress to use the lame duck session to save lives by passing the Cures legislation, and many agree. This message was reinforced in The Hill by leaders of United for Medical Research. It was reported today that a Cures bill could be considered by Congress in early December, and that it may be the vehicle used to consider mental health policy changes as well. While Research!America’s support of this (or any) legislation of course depends on its contents, the fact that Congressional leaders are pushing forward is promising. To help you urge action, we have created a #CuresNOW Advocacy Headquarters. Please circulate widely!

Our post-election briefing this week featured pollster John Zogby (click here for his latest election analysis) and a terrific panel of leaders with deep policymaking credentials and a solid commitment to science, health, and evidenced-based decision making. The panel was moderated by renowned journalist and WABC-TV Eyewitness News co-anchor, Lori Stokes. Watch the event here. The importance of scientists proactively engaging in the policy process was a major theme of the discussion. If that stimulates you to action -- and I hope it does -- check out GreatAgain.gov. As I recently discussed in another context, we should all take a moment to register our priorities with President-elect Trump’s transition team. If we expect science and innovation to be high on Mr. Trump’s list, we simply must speak out in force.

This very same assertion was beautifully conveyed in a recent Scientific American article by Dan Rather. He writes, “we need to radically rethink how the press, scientists and politicians place science in the national discourse. And we can’t afford to wait. The top priority must be for scientists to try to engage the incoming administration.” With that goal in mind, Research!America was pleased to work with  Dr. Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for science policy at UCSF and Research!America board member, and a distinguished group of biomedical scientists to develop recommendations for the next Administration to maximize the positive impact of the NIH. Keith discussed how he hopes to convey the importance of science in a recent NPR article

Lastly, this coming Monday is Public Health Thank You Day.  In honor of this important day, the co-chairs of the House Public Health Caucus, Reps. Wittman (R-VA), Green (D-TX), Granger (R-TX) and Roybal-Allard (D-CA), introduced a resolution (H.Con.Res.172) expressing a sense of Congress that public health professionals should be commended on Public Health Thank You Day, November 21st. Check out the PHTYD website for more, and get involved if you aren’t already. This is an important opportunity to raise awareness and thank those who work day in and day out to protect and promote our health and safety.


Mary Woolley

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana