Tag Archives: continuing resolution

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: The Congress of Today and the Congress of the Future

Dear Research Advocate:

With only eleven days until the end of the fiscal year, Congress has yet to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30. The House is expected to vote on, and pass, a bill that does not include funding to administer Obamacare as part of their “CR;” the Senate and the President will not agree, thus almost certainly forcing a government shutdown.

The issue of what to do about sequestration is almost certainly not going to be resolved as part of negotiating this short-term CR. That means we must continue to fight for action, and there has been a flurry of advocacy on Capitol Hill. This included, but was certainly not limited to the inaugural class of our Postdoctoral Advocacy Academy, who visited their Members’ offices to share stories of how sequestration has impacted their work and careers. And yesterday, Research!America’s Chair, former Congressman John E. Porter, gave the “go get ‘em” charge at the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. Thanks to the leadership of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the day attracted more than 150 organizations, with more than 225 survivors and other advocates from more than 40 states descending on Washington. Also this week, the AACR released their third annual Cancer Report, demonstrating the tremendous return on the nation’s investment in basic research. Continue reading →

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A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Special early short edition this week

Dear Research Advocate:

I am sending out my letter early this week so that you can plan now, if you are not able to be with us in person tomorrow in Washington, to join us electronically for our National Health Research Forum. With the theme of “Straight Talk,” our first-rate panelists will speak candidly about where our medical and health ecosystem is headed today — what the possibilities are, if we give research and innovation every chance to succeed — and what the policy and funding challenges are as we go forward. We thank Lilly, our lead sponsor; all our additional sponsors; and WebMD for live-streaming the event on their website at www.webmd.com/researchforum.

On the funding front, Congress may soon consider a simple, short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at levels slightly lower than the current FY13 level (that means including the sequestration hit), lasting until mid-December. There are no riders or mandates that affect NIH — or any other agency for that matter. In the end, it’s likely that this CR will pass both chambers. But the fight to end sequestration continues, and an action opportunity may present itself with discussions spurred by the debt limit. We are planning our advocacy accordingly and will keep you in the loop.

Finally, I’d like to extend warm congratulations to the 2013 Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation award winners. These impressive scientists and philanthropists have worked tirelessly to advance basic and clinical medical research and ensure that research reaches those in need. These prestigious awards are well-deserved.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A “dark future for science?”

Dear Research Advocate:

Although Congress officially returns next week, many Members are back in Washington as the debate about the crisis in Syria commands center stage. Members also face looming fiscal deadlines, with only nine legislative days scheduled in September to act on those and a large backlog of other legislation. Given all this, it is not hard to predict how Congress will handle the long- or short-term budget resolutions, debt ceiling, the future of sequestration, tax and entitlement reform, and a myriad of other interconnected items: They will put off decision-making.

Thus a continuing resolution (“CR”), extending FY13 budgets, looks likely, once again kicking the can down the road and, in doing so, kicking patients and researchers alike into the ditch. And things will be worse than the terrible FY13 numbers, given that the Budget Control Act mandates less discretionary spending in FY14 than in FY13 — almost certainly prompting agencies to further decrease their spending while waiting for what might well be a still-lower final appropriations bill (more details here.)

This adds up to “a dark future for science” according to NIH Director Francis Collins. He and other leaders of science believe that the nation is increasingly underprepared to meet existing — not to mention emerging — health threats. Now is the time to hold Congress accountable for avoiding a dark future by making your voice heard. Click here to send a message to your representatives that medical research at NIH, CDC and our other health research agencies must be championed in the upcoming fiscal debates — not cut, not put on hold, but prioritized, championed. After participating online, magnify your voice as a broad coalition joins forces on September 18 to participate in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Hill Day, urging Congress to champion the National Institutes of Health. Continue reading →

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Is a do-nothing Congress a public health threat?

Dear Research Advocate:

Last week, I wrote about the international trade deficit our country faces. This week, I’d like to focus on the budget deficit. From 2003 to 2011, Medicare and Medicaid spending grew 74% while our economy only grew 35%. With that kind of differential, no government can balance its budget. We need research to address disabling and costly illnesses, but that won’t be enough in and of itself to bridge the gap. We also need tax and entitlement reform that preserves needed services, squeezes out waste and inefficiency (by the way, that’s why we must also fight to protect health economics research, health services research and other research that optimizes health care financing and delivery) and promotes pro-innovation tax changes that are designed to sustain a prosperous nation.

One vocal advocate for a long-term view of the steps our nation must take to secure human and economic progress, including committing to ample and stable public support for medical research, is The Honorable John Porter, Research!America chair and former U.S. representative. He recently penned an op-ed published on CNN.com and elsewhere titled “A do-nothing Congress isn’t healthy.” Mr. Porter makes it clear that we must “view research through the prism of future generations” to properly set a legislative course towards prosperity and good health, and we must not delay. 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

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: When “kicking the can down the road” is better than the alternative

Dear Research Advocate,

Medical research advocates are being heard by those urging a halt to across-the-board budget cuts scheduled to go into effect March 1; your voices are being picked up in the media and echoed by decision makers. But as the deadline approaches, no progress has been made, with many Members of Congress insisting that sequestration go forward. As much as we, and the public at large, have railed against Congress when it “kicks the can down the road,” this is a time to call for just that! Delaying sequestration would create the opportunity (of course, not the promise) of a “grand bargain” before the continuing resolution ends March 27. (In order to avoid shutting down the government, Congress must act before that date. It may be another case of kick-the-can, extending funding until the end of the fiscal year on September 30.) What advocates must push for right now is to eliminate sequestration in favor of prioritization and pragmatism. Email your representatives, sign this petition from AAAS, and stop sequestration. When you reach out to your representatives, use our revised fact sheet and make sure to highlight how sequester would impact your priorities. For other examples, see the just-released fact sheet on sequestration from The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) as well as Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s report.

The House subcommittee that sets funding levels for NIH, CDC and AHRQ wants to hear from you! On March 13, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee is holding a public witness hearing. Requests to testify are due by Monday, February 25. This is an excellent opportunity to make your voice heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. (Members of Research!America, let us know if we can help draft a request letter!)

The New York Times reported Monday that the White House is planning to launch a decade-long project led by the NIH to unravel the core functions of the brain. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins spoke about the Brain Activity Map on PBS’s Newshour last evening. Scientists are hoping that the project will provide $300 million in funding per year for a decade or more, with the end goal of understanding what goes wrong in the brain and how this leads to some of the most insidious and expensive diseases plaguing Americans and the world. The price tag is daunting, and it will be important to ensure this project doesn’t supplant other critical research, but there is no doubt that cracking the code to the numerous diseases of the brain would be a breathtaking advance in modern medicine.

Speaking of spectacular research, the richest research prize ever has been announced. The winners will receive a prize of $3 million each in recognition of their high impact research. This headline-grabbing announcement helps put faces on science and remind the country of its value, perhaps inspiring young Americans to pursue a career in research. But awards are not enough to stop the onslaught of growing public health threats like Alzheimer’s and other diseases, especially when many policy makers are prepared to allow sequestration to occur. We need to reinvest in our innovative capacity, not cut it off at a time of immense opportunity for health breakthroughs and research-driven economic growth.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley