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You can change the image of things to come…

Dear Research Advocate,

…but you can’t do it sitting on your hands!”  — a memorable call to action from research champion John Edward Porter, who died last week at the age of 87.  John, a former Chair of the Board of Research!America, was the first lawmaker to call for the doubling of the NIH budget over five years, in the 1990s. A life-long Republican, he was known for building bridges across party lines. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), in a moving tribute on the Senate floor, emphasized John’s commitment to bipartisanship and noted he had inspired the Senator’s more recent efforts to work across the aisle and push for dramatic increases at NIH. Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) referred to John as a “role model” when the Congressman assumed the chairmanship of the Labor, HHS, Education Subcommittee, the committee John led so ably during his House career.

John was passionate about the imperative for the science community to engage with Congress. Research!America will forever be grateful for his leadership as our board chair and for his friendship. As I said in our public statement, “John’s life was one of purpose and his legacy is large. He taught us all to live with dignity, resolve, kindness, and strength.” Long may his legacy inspire us all!

On the Hill:

FDA User Fee Progress: Both the House and Senate advanced legislation this week to reauthorize the FDA user fees, including for both prescription drugs and medical devices. The House passed its version by a vote of 392-28. The Senate HELP Committee is scheduled to mark up its version on June 14. Congress and the President must agree on a final package by September 30 when the current authorizations expire.

FY22 COVID Supplemental: Unfortunately, neither the House nor the Senate has made any progress in advancing much-needed supplemental funding for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments. While our country is growing weary of COVID, Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, explains why we don’t have that luxury: “The bunk that cases are not important is preposterous. They are infections that beget more cases, they beget Long Covid, they beget sickness, hospitalizations, and deaths. They are also the underpinning of new variants.”

In the face of Congress’s inaction, the Administration is considering shuffling existing COVID funding away from stockpiling protective equipment, tests, and ventilators to purchase additional vaccines. They are compelled to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it makes no sense. Use this editable tweet to encourage Congressional leadership to quickly enact a supplemental pandemic preparedness funding measure.

FY23 Appropriations Progress: Yesterday, the House adopted a “deeming” resolution setting its overall discretionary spending target for FY23. The “four corners” (the chairs and ranking members of House and Senate Appropriations Committees) have yet to come to an agreement on an overall spending target. By deeming a funding target, the House is setting its own spending total so that appropriators can begin marking up individual appropriations bills. The House and Senate will need to come to an agreement before Congress can complete its FY23 spending package.

ICYMI: This week Alex Keenan, Majority Staff Director, Senate Appropriations Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee, joined alliance members for an off-the-record conversation. One key takeaway: we are once again facing incredible uncertainty regarding the timing and outcome of the FY23 appropriations process, and advocacy will be needed more than ever. We will provide updates and continued opportunities for your engagement.

Interested in joining these off-the-record conversations in the future? Contact Anna Platt to discuss how your organization can become a member.

Early Career Summit: We are excited to welcome over 350 early career scientists to our upcoming interactive career exploration and skills-building summit on June 15. There is still time to sign up! Topics will include how to communicate the value of science through op-ed writing, science communication on social media, mentorship on the ground, and more! Please register for this free event and pass along to others. We look forward to seeing you there!

Strengthening the STEM Workforce: How do we fortify and diversify the pipeline of those pursuing careers in science? One answer may lie in the way science is taught. A study published in Science reports that over half of the 600,000 undergraduate students who begin pursuing a STEM major eventually switch before graduating; students coming from historically excluded communities are much more likely to leave STEM fields. The article underscores the need for specific curriculum changes.

Don’t Miss an Update on NIMH: Please join the Friends of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) on June 13 at 2 p.m. ET for a meeting with Joshua A. Gordon, MD, PhD, Director of NIMH. Dr. Gordon will provide an update on NIMH’s priorities, discuss research advances, and highlight future directions for the mental health research field. Register for the discussion here.

Upcoming Alliance Discussion: Join us on Wednesday, June 22, at 2 p.m. ET for a discussion with Patroski J. Lawson, CEO of KPM Group DC, about his work in mental health advocacy and the importance of equal access to mental health care.

Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected.