Washington Update

Researchers Find Bipartisan Support for Science during FASEB Capitol Hill Day

By: Jennifer Zeitzer
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Large crowds, long security lines, and frigid temperatures did not deter 57 researchers who participated in FASEB’s 2019 Capitol Hill Day, March 6-7. Attendees came from 29 states, representing 24 FASEB societies. The participants included senior investigators, mid-career scientists, and two PhD candidates. FASEB’s member societies made a special effort to recruit younger scientists for this year’s event.

Participants met with 109 congressional offices, strongly urging legislators to raise the budget caps and support FASEB’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding recommendations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science, Veterans Administration Medical and Prosthetic Research Program, and the competitive research program administered by the Department of Agriculture. Attendees spent additional time with staff and members of Congress explaining NSF’s pivotal role in supporting biological research.

During their meetings, researchers explained the justifications for the Federation’s requested funding levels and shared examples of how their states and districts benefit from federal grants. They also delivered FASEB’s NIH state and agency district funding factsheets, updated with the most recent data.

Hill Day participants asked their senators and representatives to sign “Dear Colleague” letters to the Appropriations Committees requesting increased funding for NIH and NSF. Earlier last week, Representatives David McKinley (R-WV), Susan Davis (D-CA), Peter King (R-NY), and Andre Carson (D-IN) began circulating a letter requesting a $2.5 billion increase for NIH in FY 2020, which mirrors FASEB’s recommendation. Other members of Congress are sponsoring a similar effort to secure more funding for NSF.

The meetings with members of Congress and their aides were encouraging. Many offices expressed appreciation for the updated FASEB factsheets and indicated that bipartisan support for NIH and NSF is expected to continue this year. Although some aides shared concerns about Congress’s ability to quickly reach an agreement to increase the budget caps, they encouraged researchers to keep up the pressure on legislators over the coming months.

FASEB’s Hill Day presence was enhanced by a parallel effort on social media. More than 150 tweets using FASEB’s chosen “raise the caps” and “fund science” hashtags earned nearly 137,000 impressions, far exceeding the Federation’s goal. In addition, FASEB’s tweets garnered almost 10 percent of the total tagged tweets for the day.

A photo album is available online. FASEB thanks the scientists and member societies who supported 2019 Capitol Hill Day.