AST Fights for Biomedical Research and Increased Federal Funding
In recent weeks, some of you have reached out to me with concerns that AST has not been sufficiently involved with how the Sequester is impacting the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding budget. We are a field that is highly dependent on biomedical research and let me assure you that our AST lobbyists, Bill Applegate and Chris Rorick of Bryan Cave, continue to have research advocacy as a top priority.
For over a decade, AST has worked closely with the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations – supporting biomedical research and connecting-the-dots between AST members and their government officials. Our Society continues to roll up its sleeves and directly lobby the decision makers and their staff on Capitol Hill – educating and remind them on a weekly basis about the significant benefits of a strong NIH and national biomedical research engine.
Early last week, the office of Vice Deputy Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) asked AST to endorse and garner support for a Durbin budget resolution amendment seeking to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to increase funding for the NIH. After receiving bi-partisan sponsor support from Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Ranking Member Senator Moran (R-Kan.), Appropriations Committee Chair Mikulski (D-MD) and Senator Cardin (D-MD), the resulting Durbin amendment was accepted and passed as part of the final Senate Budget Resolution.
Prior to the recent Congressional consideration of both the Budget Resolution (a non-binding spending blueprint for appropriators) and the Continuing Resolution (an actual spending measure that funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year), AST made key visits to the offices of Federal NIH Appropriations Committee leaders, Capitol Hill staff and dozens of stakeholders in Washington, DC and across the country. These meetings were held to discuss strategies that would build greater support for research, and included influential leaders and research stakeholder organizations, including:
• Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair Full Appropriations/Funding Committee
• Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chairman NIH Appropriations/Funding Subcommittee
• Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman NIH Appropriations/Funding Subcommittee
• Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ranking Republican on the NIH Appropriations/Funding Committee
• Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Deputy Senate Majority Leader
• Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Senior Senate Appropriations/Funding Committee member
• Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Democrat on the NIH Appropriations/Funding Committee
AST has always been a very active participant in many national research supportive coalitions – endorsing letters, organizing joint visits to Capitol Hill, etc. On Monday, April 8, AST and over 90 national organizations and institutions (including the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research) will join together in the Rally for Medical Research to publicly express support for the NIH as a national priority, raising awareness among the general public about the importance of continued investment in scientific research. The Rally will last for over an hour and will feature NIH Director Francis Collins, Members of Congress and most importantly, the survivors of many of the diseases and conditions that affect so many individuals and families in the U.S. and all over the world.
Join us! Go to – www.rallyformedicalresearch.org – where you can learn more about the rally and find out how to get involved.
These activities are only successful if an organization has the ability to sit down with senior Congressional staff, committee aides and actual members of Congress – something we do every week on behalf of our membership. Everyone has their role in the advocacy community and AST has been fortunate to maintain a strong presence by successfully getting in front of and personally delivering our concerns about Sequestration, NIH Budget, and the future of science directly to decision-makers on the Hill and around the country.
There is no silver bullet to the fiscal dilemma that Congress has created, but we continue to fight the good fight.