Tag Archives: Barbara Mikulski

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Happenings in and out of Washington

Dear Research Advocate:

I am writing a day early this week since all of us at Research!America will be engaged in our programs tomorrow. If you haven’t registered for the National Health Research Forum, there is still time to join us! More details here.

Congress is back in town. The House will soon consider a simple, short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through early December. (Nobody wants a repeat of last year’s government shutdown at the beginning of the new fiscal year, October 1.) To offset funding requested by the Administration to help meet the Ebola crisis, as well as to adjust for certain other “anomalies,” the CR bill includes a 0.0556% across-the-board spending cut. There may be modest negotiations, but this or a very similar CR is likely to easily pass both Houses shortly. After the election, it will be important to vocally support the efforts of Appropriations Committee Chairs Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rogers (R-Ky.-05) as they seek to complete the FY15 appropriations process with omnibus legislation before the 113th Congress adjourns in December. More on this in future letters. Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A long letter with timely news

Dear Research Advocate:

Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) — one of the most effective and dedicated champions of medical and health research ever to serve in public office — introduced major new legislation, the Accelerate Biomedical Research Act.  This visionary legislation would increase the budget caps in order to boost National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to $46.2 billion by FY 2021, a strategy for restoring NIH purchasing power without cutting into funding for other national priorities. You can view my statement on the legislation here and our thank you letter to the Senator here.  It would be terrific if you would write a letter of support for the legislation and send a message encouraging your Senator to sign on.

There’s more good news to share! The Senate Labor-H bill and accompanying report language were released today.  We are grateful to Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Labor-H Subcommittee Chairman Harkin for helping to conceive of, and agreeing to include, report language to fund a Blue Ribbon Commission on science literacy and public appreciation of science. We’re pleased to have played a role in making this happen but every science advocate deserves credit when federal leaders take a step like this.

In terms of FY15 funding, you may recall that the Senate Labor-H subcommittee proposed NIH be funded at $30.5 billion, a $605.7 million increase, or about a 2% bump over FY14 levels.  The proposed measure also funds CDC at nearly $6 billion, a 3.3% increase from FY14 and funds AHRQ at $373.3 million, a mere .6% increase from FY14.  With the appropriations momentum stalled, rumors are floating around the Hill that the House will soon consider a Continuing Resolution or CR (extending current spending levels) through the election and potentially into December.  Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: American values at stake

Dear Research Advocate:

My colleagues at Research!America have shared the role as author of our weekly letter during my recent sabbatical. My thanks to them for providing timely and actionable information to our wide network. As I am “re-entering” the Washington space, I have been struck by (1) the significantly worse condition of the roads — potholes everywhere, and now even sinkholes in DC! I’ve been in several global capitals this spring, including in less-developed countries, and DC doesn’t look good in comparison. Via recent domestic travels, I can attest to the poor condition of our roads nationwide, taking a toll on vehicles and our economy, while eroding public confidence in government. Public goods — like infrastructure, education and science — that we have long nurtured through steady investment cannot continue to be resource-starved without dire consequences. No wonder the American public is angry at Washington! (2) I have come back just in time to witness the appropriations process grind to a halt. The clock is ticking down toward August recess, and appropriators have a new excuse for failure to take action, i.e., the migrant children emergency. There will always be national emergencies. By definition they are unpredictable, and some are more complex than others; it nonetheless cannot be acceptable for Congress to grind to a halt when one occurs. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Research!America: Flat won’t get the job done

Dear Research Advocate:

Today, Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) released the Senate’s 302(b) allocations, which were approved by the Appropriations Committee. As you know from last week, the House 302(b) allocation for the Labor-HHS subcommittee is approximately $1 billion less in fiscal year 2015 than it was in FY 14.The Senate’s allocation for FY 15 is roughly the same as it was in FY 14. The bottom line is that, as expected, we have our work cut out for us to achieve the increases needed for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and our nation’s other health research agencies. Fortunately, Senator Mikulski and other leaders from both sides of the aisle understand the importance of investing in research to drive U.S. innovation.  That doesn’t reduce advocates’ workload, but it makes success more than a longshot.

Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Agriculture considered bills that would fund the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in FY 15. The House version calls for a $23 million increase (less than 1%) while the Senate version provides a $36 million increase. While appropriators deserve credit for finding additional dollars for the FDA given overall FY 15 budget constraints, this agency’s responsibility for protecting the very safety of Americans requires more dollars than this.  Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Back to regular order, sort of?

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. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: “Good” news that might not last

Dear Research Advocate:

This week the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to increase NIH funding by $307 million in FY14, an increase largely due to the unwavering support of Labor-HHS subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin and Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski. The Senate bill also increases funding for the CDC by $1.6 billion over FY13. It is important to note that the Senate bill does not include sequestration reductions, but Mikulski has vowed to fight these dangerous, continued cuts. (See my brief statement on this week’s Senate action.) We all realize that these proposed funding levels are not adequate to capitalize on the current opportunity in science and respond robustly to the needs of patients and their families, but they are significantly better than what the House has in store. The overall funding level in the House Labor-HHS bill, which includes NIH, CDC and AHRQ, is 26% less than the Senate’s proposal, leaving the outcome of any kind of budget deal bleak indeed. “Compromise” between the two houses would be significantly worse than a continuing resolution, and sequestration is still in place. In short, the welcome action of the Senate is not likely to become the law of the land.  We have work to do!

Congress can be an insular place, as evidenced by cuts policy makers are weighing for research and other basic government functions. Outside Congress, the implications of underfunding are all too real. Take the story of Navy veteran and cancer patient Bryan Fazio, who exemplifies American values and whose story is a testament to the importance of continued research. We may lose this amazing young man, but with continued research we can save others struggling with this disease. Please join me in contacting Members of Congress and urging them to support robust funding for health and research during the FY14 appropriations process and beyond.

Lawmakers across the pond recognize the importance of investing in research. British Chancellor George Osborne announced a capital investment commitment of £1.1 billion ($1.661 billion) a year in the science budget through the end of the decade, influenced by the strong case made by the U.K. National Academies for the economic benefits of research (see report). The U.K., under a conservative government and with an austerity budget, has made a national commitment to science and research. They are not alone. Australia’s federal government recently announced a $13.5 million ($12.42 million U.S.) investment in research to improve primary care, including a research partnership with Canada. Other nations are following suit and ramping up research; isn’t it ironic that the U.S. wrote the playbook but now appears to be ceding global leadership? I don’t think it is a choice the American people are making. Based on our polling data and a number of recent radio interviews around the nation, I have come to the conclusion that Americans are taking for granted that policy makers are giving research a high priority, and since policy makers are not hearing from their constituents, they are not thinking twice about cutting research as part of deficit reduction. People are surprised to find out that research isn’t the priority it once was; surprised to learn about cuts that have already occurred; and openly shocked to hear about further cuts being proposed. I implore you to join me in setting the record straight and connecting the dots for people you know who might be taking research funding for granted. We must inform Americans and then translate the shock of understanding into advocacy. We have been urging more Americans to speak out via Twitter using the hashtag #curesnotcuts. Please join in.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A bad year to have a good idea?

Dear Research Advocate,

“2013 is a bad year to have a good idea,” was the bleak statement Laura Niedernhofer, MD, PhD, made about the impact of sequestration in a recent FASEB report. None of us want this year, or this country, to be a bad starting point for good ideas … but that’s what’s at stake. Think about telling someone with a serious illness that this isn’t a good year, or a good decade, for research. Think about telling them that from here on out, it may always be a bad year for a good idea.

Is there hope for turning this around? We have bipartisan support and we have champions; that we need more is a reality, but by no means an impossibility. Cancer research advocates gathered last evening to honor Congresswoman DeLauro (D-CT-03) and Senator Shelby (R-AL). Several other Members of Congress gave inspiring remarks, with an emphasis on adopting a positive, can-do approach, focusing on the local impact of research and stressing the profound and enduring consequences of backtracking. They counseled advocates, “Don’t take no for an answer!” In yesterday’s NIH appropriations hearing, Chairwoman Mikulski (D-MD) vowed to “work her earrings off” to make sure the agency gets the funding it needs. Strong bipartisan support for research was the byword for the session. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: We can’t let up now

Dear Research Advocate,

Glimmers of hope can be found in the dire funding situation we face under sequestration. The continuing resolution (C.R.) funding the government through the end of the fiscal year (September 30) included very small increases for NIH, CDC, NSF and FDA; AHRQ was flat funded. But the fact remains that these increases were overwhelmed by the effect of sequestration, which remains in place and will continue to weigh us down for 10 years unless overturned. Our champions in Congress are speaking out and taking a stand on behalf of research as the budget negotiation proceeds. Reps. McKinley (R-WV) and Markey (D-MA) have co-authored a letter to House appropriators calling for $32 billion for NIH in FY14, a $1.5 billion increase. Take action right away and urge your representatives to sign on! Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) delivered a powerful floor speech highlighting the bipartisan importance of investing in NIH. In the Senate, Sens. Durbin, Mikulski, Moran and Cardin sponsored an amendment to the budget resolution calling for increased investment for biomedical research at the NIH. While this move is largely symbolic, it demonstrates the level of bipartisan commitment of our champions. You can view Senator Durbin’s statement here as well as the Research!America statement. And special thanks are due to Senator Harkin for his effort to provide NIH with a $244 million increase as part of the C.R. His sustained leadership has helped in so many ways to sustain NIH through good times and bad. Read our statement on his amendment here.

Congress is on recess and getting an earful from their constituents. A new public opinion poll shows that people are extremely angry at Congress but don’t see that sequestration is going to be a problem. That’s why it’s important to connect the dots. Hooray for a flurry of articles published in newspapers in Baltimore, Lancaster (PA), Los Angeles and Seattle —all emphasizing the damage being done by sequestration. More are called for! In a pulling-no-punches editorial in Science, Dr. Bruce Alberts lays out his concerns for the future of research, a future that is closely linked to the decisions our elected officials will make over the coming months. He invites responses; you can weigh in.

Many of you may be aware of our upcoming panel discussion on April 8 — Conquering Pain & Fighting Addiction: Policy Imperatives to Combat a Growing Health Crisis — featuring thought leaders on issues relating to pain and addiction. This a critical topic of growing national importance with a major role for research — I hope you can join us. Register here. Earlier in the day, the entire staff of Research!America will join tens of thousands of advocates at the Rally for Medical Research on the steps of the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. Let’s all join forces that day to drive home the message that research must be a higher national priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

Statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on Bipartisan Action Spotlighting NIH Funding

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Applauds Bipartisan Action Spotlighting NIH Funding

March 22, 2013

Research!America commends Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for their vision, their leadership and their commitment to bipartisanship as evidenced by their joint amendment calling for robust investment in medical research. We urge all senators to cosponsor and vote for this significant amendment. The National Institutes of Health funds noncommercial research at universities and other institutions across our nation, research that catalyzes private sector development of new preventative measures, diagnostics, treatments and cures for disabling and deadly diseases. This chain reaction lies behind the myriad medical advances we rely on today and is the path to the continued medical progress we need to overcome Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other insidious health threats. That these senators came together in support of increased funding for the NIH signals their commitment to saving lives and powering our economy. We hope it will also spur bipartisan action to reverse sequestration, which, if allowed to stand, all but ensures the decline in our nation’s medical research pipeline.

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Will Policy Makers let Rome Burn?

Dear Research Advocate,

Today, the Senate is planning to vote on a bipartisan continuing resolution from Sens. Mikulski and Shelby to fund the federal government through the end of the year. The good news is that the bill includes an increase, albeit small ($71 million) in NIH funding; Senator Harkin tried, unsuccessfully, unfortunately, to increase NIH even further, and Senator Durbin worked on an ambitious amendment to add more than $1.5 billion to the NIH budget. We truly appreciate the efforts of all of these champions and the fact that NIH funding was singled out for an increase on a bipartisan basis by the Appropriations Committee. The bad news is that sequestration will wipe out all of these increases. The most likely outcome of the Senate appropriations process is a cut to NIH in the $1.5 billion range. While our community’s herculean advocacy efforts over the last several months are paying off — medical research funding is clearly receiving priority consideration — sequestration is sweeping away our progress. We must continue to fight this policy mistake, with its 10 years of consequences. Take a minute right now to speak out to your representatives. And plan, on April 8, to join the research community at a Rally in D.C. to fight for medical research. Learn more here.

Another amendment offered to the Senate legislation would eliminate political science research at NSF by transferring those dollars to the National Cancer Institute. This amendment sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the integrity and value of research. For years, leaders in Congress from both sides of the aisle, including Research!America’s chairman, former Congressman John Porter, have fought off attempts by Congress to micromanage research. We must fight to keep research decisions off the House and Senate floors and in the hands of scientists and patients.

The House and Senate budget resolutions for FY14, which were also introduced this week, are emblematic of the problem we, as a country, face. The ideological divide is so great that “a grand bargain,” one that will balance the federal budget without decimating our economy and forsaking our determination to defeat disabling and deadly diseases, seems impossible. But Congress and the White House report to the American people. We can and must demand compromise between competing views of the government’s role, and we must stand up for priorities like fighting diseases that threaten our own and future generations. No more political party posturing usurping the governing process. No more across-the-board cuts. FY14 must bring with it pragmatism, prioritization and policy making that puts the country first. Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has penned a compelling op-ed in Roll Call capturing these sentiments.

Switching gears in this very big week, I’d like to thank all who were able to join us for yesterday’s Annual Meeting and Advocacy Awards dinner. We heard truly inspirational remarks from Sens. Richard Burr and Bob Casey, champions of the entire ecosystem behind U.S.-driven medical progress. Our other award winners — John Crowley, Diane Rehm, Dr. John Mendelsohn, Dr. Mark Rosenberg and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — are strong advocates for research; we salute their achievements.

Finally, as I announced at our Board meeting, I’m proud that Research!America has entered into a letter of agreement with our sister organizations in Australia, Canada and Sweden to ensure international collaboration by sharing best practices in advocacy for research for health. While our organizations operate in different countries and in distinctly different political environments, we have in common a fundamental commitment to making biomedical and health research a higher global priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Down to the wire

Dear Research Advocate,

Progress toward a deal to avert the fiscal cliff seems now to have been reversed, with talk today of reintroducing aspects of the Ryan budget — more severe than sequestration. Holidays or not, this is no time to let up on our individual and collective advocacy for research. Reps. Fudge (D-OH) and Stivers (R-OH) are leading a bipartisan sign-on letter, urging Congress to take into account the critical importance of NIH in any deficit reduction plan. Take action and urge your representatives to sign on! For those of you in Ohio, if you would like to thank Reps. Fudge and Stivers for their efforts, you may obtain their contact information here.

In addition to ensuring sufficient federal funding for research, the government must provide a tax and regulatory environment that is pro-research and pro-innovation. Last week, Research!America sent letters to congressional leaders and the president sharing information about significant contraction in the medical device industry that appears to be associated with the looming medical device tax. If our nation’s leaders truly believe that innovation is the path to lasting economic prosperity for our nation, then they must evaluate both funding and policy, including tax policy changes, in that context. Excerpts of the letters were quoted in CQ Healthbeat and POLITICO Pro articles.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died this week; reportedly, his last word was “aloha.” Sen. Inouye’s incomparable leadership and half-century of service to our nation will be sorely missed. As chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he played a vital role in boosting funding for research. He was an ardent advocate of nursing and nursing research, as well as research focused on helping those in military service and our returning veterans.

We look forward to working with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who will succeed Sen. Inouye as chairman of appropriations. Sen. Mikulski received the Whitehead Award from Research!America last March. She was honored for her long-standing leadership and support for medical research, public health and prevention, regulatory science, and the physical sciences, as well as her support for research as a force for economic competitiveness. She is a champion of women’s health issues and has authored comprehensive legislation to accelerate research on Alzheimer’s disease.

As our nation continues to mourn the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, I am reminded that research has a role to play in keeping Americans safe through better understanding of how to assure public safety concerning guns, keeping in mind both government and individual responsibilities, and in better understanding mental health challenges. Our public policies should be evidence-based, and when we don’t have the evidence, we need the research to establish it. Research!America extends our deepest sympathies to the families affected by this incident.

It is indeed a time of reflection as to what should be the role of the government in assisting us as individuals — and as a society — in accomplishing our goals and living our values. Our nation and our elected representatives have a challenging time ahead, as does every advocate for research and every patient and caregiver. Let’s not let the year end without stepping up to the challenge, engaging our policy makers and putting research front and center.

All of us at Research!America wish you and yours a joyous holiday season.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley