A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Cliff diving and appropriations, too

Dear Research Advocate,

Congress is back and there is talk of more stalemate, with support wavering for a deal to avert the fiscal cliff before the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner said early today that “no substantive progress has been made” on negotiations. Amazingly, inaction (going over the cliff) remains a possibility. The more likely scenario is a short-term fix that leaves the major decisions in the hands of the next Congress. In the midst of behind-the-scenes negotiations between congressional leadership and the White House, appropriators are talking about finalizing their bills before the end of the lame-duck session rather than waiting to revisit the current continuing resolution in the new Congress. They would likely use an omnibus appropriations bill, creating a vehicle for funding the damage from Superstorm Sandy. If this scenario plays out — and it’s a long-shot — it is possible that more cuts to research and other discretionary spending will be embedded in the omnibus.

This is yet another compelling reason to get involved now in research advocacy. At every turn in the current policymaking process, biomedical and health research is at risk. If you have not called your senators and congressional representative, now truly is the time. In addition, you can take advantage of the sample materials in our Save Research online toolkit to personalize op-eds, letters to the editor, social media messages and more.

If you do decide to speak up, you will be joining a movement that is gaining traction. For the first time ever, our community has been included in a list in an Associated Press article that features defense and oil and gas interests as those being heard in Washington. Indeed, a broad array of media has been picking up our story.

An op-ed in Politico co-authored by six former CDC directors urges Congress to maintain CDC funding amidst the deficit reduction negotiations. The piece highlights the critical role that CDC plays in protecting public health, citing the recent fungal meningitis outbreak. The directors register concern about a system so tightly constrained that it can’t respond to a crisis without compromising health in other areas. Further cuts would be catastrophic. A similar point about the dangers of compromising key public health capacity was made by Dr. Herb Pardes in an opinion piece in the New York Daily News. This is the time to state your case; tell the media, your elected representatives and anyone who will listen just what is at stake.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

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