Wasn’t it yesterday that I wrote about the proposed US Senate bill that would increase the budget of the National Institutes of Health to USD 31 billion in 2014 for biomedical research? I also expressed the concern that although this seemed like the much-awaited glimmer of hope, the bill would have to pass through the Republican-controlled House and would undoubtedly suffer major setbacks to the point of being scuttled. I am powerless to do anything directly, since I am not a US citizen – but I can certainly try to raise awareness of this issue, so that other American scientists and colleagues may do their part and communicate their concerns to their elected members of the Congress.
This morning I received a legislative alert from the Public and Scientific Affairs Board of the professional organization, American Society for Microbiology, of which I am a member. I would like to share the contents of that alert with you all. The situation, as you can well understand, is not restricted to Microbiology research, but affects all kinds of biomedical research under all disciplines. I urge you, please don’t remain silent – please raise your voice at this critical juncture. The future of this nation’s leadership in STEM discipline lies in your hands; no pressure. Thank you.
Legislative Alert: Contact Congress to Increase Research and Public Health Funding
The across-the-board budget cut of 5 percent to nondefense and defense discretionary federal funding, known as sequestration, took effect on March 1, 2013, as required by statute. The ASM continues along with other organizations and scientific societies, to inform policymakers through briefings, letters and visits, of the negative impacts these cuts and other budget shortfalls will have on research and public health programs. The ASM is urging Congress and the White House to work together to restore funding lost through sequestration in fiscal year (FY) 2013 and to increase funding for federally funded research in FY 2014.
The negative impacts of sequestration cuts are having a serious effect. For example, the NIH reported that approximately 700 fewer competitive research project grants will be awarded while the CDC has stated that cuts will reduce support to state, local and international health programs, with devastating consequences to the health and security of our nation. Continued cuts to basic life sciences research funded by the NIH, NSF and DOE will compromise the country’s position as a leader in innovation in biomedical, biotechnology, energy and environmental research and will affect research training and the next generation of scientists who will experience difficulty in sustaining a career in research.
Please send a message to your Congressional delegation during the August recess to communicate the vital importance of the Nation’s investment in research and public health. Click on the ASM’s Legislative Action Center and use the editable text to send a message to Congress. Adequate federal funding must be sustained for critical programs that are essential for health, security, agriculture, environmental quality, and sustained economic growth. Please also consider adding your own experiences with sequestration cuts to make the message more impactful.
Additionally, you may consider scheduling a personal meeting with your member of Congress or their staff. The following is a link to “Taking the Message to Congress” a document which has been developed to assist you in effectively communicating with Congress.
Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., President, ASM
Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board