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Prathik’s Future

Dear Research Advocate:

Today the House and Senate passed a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to flat-fund the government through December 22. Congressional leaders hope this stop-gap will buy them enough time to negotiate a bipartisan budget deal that raises the Defense and non-Defense (NDD) spending caps. If the budget deal (#RaisetheCaps) is finalized by the 22nd, Congress may well pass yet another short-term CR to allow a month or two to complete an FY18 omnibus spending bill based on the new, higher funding levels.

Continued momentum behind a budget deal is definitely good news, but momentum can wane; here is a new resource, culled from our state-by-state fact sheet series, that provides local examples of research need. How about making use of it to email or Tweet your representatives in Congress in support of a budget deal?

What isn’t good news is the ongoing reliance on CRs, rather than regular order, to keep the government running. One of the many reasons CRs are a bad way of doing business, particularly for grant-making agencies like NIH, AHRQ and NSF, is that they don’t just prevent budget increases (or decreases or re-allocations), they typically bar federal agencies from initiating new activities, even if doing so is the most strategic, pragmatic and cost-efficient path. In the case of NIH, for example, innovative new and promising grant proposals are in limbo, even as scientific opportunity emerges and public health issues shift. Marking time instead of making use of it to advance the best interests of Americans is an egregious form of government waste. (Learn more about CRs here.)

On to the tax package and thus to the rumor mill, which has it that the House-Senate compromise bill or “conference report” will look more like the Senate than the House version of tax reform. As the conferees continue their work, we thought it might be useful to provide a comparison of the two bills, focusing on provisions alliance members have contacted us about. Here’s a side-by-side of those provisions.

Taxation of graduate tuition waivers and other provisions related to higher education appear in the House bill only. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) is leading a congressional sign-on letter for the House and Senate in opposition to the tuition waiver provision. I encourage you to personalize and send this email to your representatives urging them to join the letter, and/or call their offices first thing in the morning to make the case! The deadline for signing on is tomorrow, December 8th at noon EST, so the sooner you weigh in, the better!

This story about Prathik Naidu, a Stanford freshman selected to present at the Nobel Awards program this weekend, connects to heart and mind about why it’s important not to change the tax code in ways that could block the path to STEM careers for so many young people like Prathik. Squandering young talent, passion, curiosity and determination is too high a price to pay for a nation committed to security, health, prosperity and global leadership.

The medical device tax repeal is not part of the tax reform package, but Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) is reportedly working on a separate, bipartisan agreement that could include another two-year suspension of the medical device tax. A repeal is better than a pause, but a pause is far better than a reinstatement of this counterproductive tax. Write your representatives and ask them to act this year to stop the tax.


Mary Woolley