FASEB Board members took advantage of the recent congressional recess to meet with representatives at home. The visits emphasized the local impact of federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
In addition, the researchers expressed concern that Congress has not agreed on a bipartisan deal to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps for fiscal year (FY) 2018. Without an agreement to adjust the non-defense program cap, Congress can’t provide the $2 billion increase for NIH approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in September.
On October 19, Bob Matthews, PhD, visited with Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) in his Worcester office. Dr. Matthews, who represents the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on the FASEB Board, shared a factsheet showing that Massachusetts’ second district received $189.7 million in NIH funding in FY 2016, distributed to 13 institutions. NSF awarded nearly $46 million to a dozen grantees across the district.
Dr. Matthews asked McGovern to communicate the urgency of raising the caps to House leaders so that NIH can receive the proposed increase. They also discussed the importance of scientists and concerned citizens mobilizing and reaching out to all members of Congress to help them understand the local role of federal research funding. McGovern urged NIH-funded scientists to continue sharing interesting and impactful personal stories of how discovery science has led to advances in clinical treatments of diseases.
A similar meeting took place between Histochemical Society FASEB Board representative Charles Frevert, DVM, ScD, and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) in her Seattle office. Jayapal said she strongly supports increasing the NIH and NSF budgets. Last month, she urged her colleagues to raise the spending caps at a Capitol Hill press conference. Jayapal thanked Dr. Frevert for the FASEB factsheet with data on federal funding in her district; the seventh district received nearly $900 million from NIH and $117 million from NSF in FY 2016. Dr. Frevert and Jayapal also discussed the importance of biomedical and life science research to Seattle’s economy.