Dear Research Advocate:
Following the lead of Budget Chairs Murray (D-WA) and Ryan (R-WI-01), Appropriations Chairs Mikulski (D-MD) and Rogers (R-KY-05) are trying to end the recent string of continuing resolutions and craft a funding compromise that advances the nation’s best interests. Congress may miss its January 15 deadline for appropriations, but it won’t likely shut down the government. We anticipate a short-term extension of the deadline while appropriators in both chambers work to craft an omnibus bill that reflects today’s priorities instead of blind, across-the-board cuts. It’s about time, you’re thinking (and I agree!) that Congress gets back to “regular order.” Regular order includes listening to constituents, content experts and advocates. That’s where you come in. Here is a link to the appropriators and the contact information for their legislative directors (LDs). Emailing their LDs may be the fastest route to reaching the members themselves. Tell them that you endorse their determination to appropriate in keeping with national priorities — and tell them what your priorities are.
In a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, Justin Chakma and co-authors shine a brighter spotlight than we’ve seen to date on how other nations are increasing their investments in medical progress while the United States’ commitment is waning. According to the report, the U.S. share of global biomedical R&D expenditures decreased 6% from 2007 to 2012, a disturbing trend that will continue to be amplified by sequestration. Norm Augustine’s recent TEDx talk provides a particularly compelling argument for why declining funding runs counter to the nation’s best interest. Without a trifecta of new knowledge, educated people and an innovation-friendly ecosystem, science cannot advance and the viability of the American dream is at risk. Public polling leaves no doubt that the American people do not want to see America lose its lead in science and innovation; moreover, a plurality would spend more in taxes if they knew those dollars would fund medical research.
I’ve cited similar reports and poll findings before and I’ll likely cite them again, because advocates must continue to call out the disconnect between what Americans expect and what policy makers have been doing — or more accurately, not doing, i.e., failing to act. Another kind of failure, failure to accurately take the public’s pulse, means electoral shake-up. Fear of being voted out of office is the reason that another government shutdown is highly unlikely: Americans have spoken out on this topic. It’s time for more advocates for research to speak out; the more of us who speak out, the more likely it is that elected representatives will respond. I urge you to use the messaging and data we highlight week to week to help convince more Members of Congress to champion medical research. Congress must end sequestration, fund science at the opportunity level, commit to tackling entitlement and tax reform, put reality instead of increasingly empty rhetoric around global leadership, release user fees, and make the R&D tax credit permanent. And we advocates must keep making the case to them!