FABBS newsletter


The (insert society name here) is represented in Washington, DC, by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS). To keep our scientists abreast of federal funding opportunities and challenges, FABBS provides a monthly newsletter article for our members. This is a valuable partnership, and we hope you find the pieces informative.

[Societies can use the title or first paragraph and link (http://www.fabbs.org/news/capitol-hill-champions-science-advocates-push-funding-requests/) to the rest of article on the FABBS site. Alternatively, you can use the entire article in your newsletters]


Capitol Hill Champions, Science Advocates Push Funding Requests

March 15, 2016

by Paula Skedsvold




The calendar for getting appropriations bills completed before the new fiscal year is tight. Yet, neither the House nor Senate have passed a budget resolution, as disagreements remain over the top-line funding level for the federal government in FY 2017. Although the budget remains in limbo, science advocates and Members of Congress who support research are making their requests known to appropriators.


NIH Increase Sought

A “Dear Colleague” letter created by four Members of Congress (Reps. David McKinley, R-WV; Susan Davis, D-CA; Andre Carson, D-IN; and Peter King, R-NY) is circulating in the U.S. House of Representatives. It urges other Members to join their bipartisan letter to appropriators, which requests funding for NIH at $34.5 billion. This amount takes into consideration the $2 billion increase NIH received in FY 2016, plus inflation. The letter noted that “over the past few years, the critical research at NIH has been impacted by repeated cuts in the midst of a fragile economy.” Similarly, a Senate letter encouraging support for NIH funding has been prepared by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC). Advocates for NIH funding, coordinated under the Ad Hoc Coalition for Medical Research Funding, are spending time on Capitol Hill asking Members to join the letters.


Support for All Sciences at NSF Urged

In the U.S. House, supporters of the National Science Foundation are also seeking support for a bipartisan “Dear Colleague” letter to subcommittee appropriators. The letter’s authors are Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Richard Hanna (R-NY). Although the Dear Colleague does not request specific funding levels for NSF, it aims to accomplish another important task. It asks the Subcommittee leaders to “reaffirm the National Science Foundation’s current practice of setting national scientific research priorities, investing across all disciplines of science, and using the merit review systems for determining which grant proposals to fund.” The goal is to get ahead of the thorny issue the science community faced last year when two NSF directorates (Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and Geosciences Directorates), were targeted for a 16% cut in the appropriations report language. In the end, the SBE Directorate was level funded in the conference report language and the reference to Geosciences as a target for cuts was removed altogether.


Although the Dear Colleague letter supporting NSF processes did not make a specific funding request for the agency, the President requested a $100 million increase in discretionary dollars. The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), however, went beyond the President’s number and, in a letter to Capitol Hill, requested $8 billion. This figure accounts for inflationary costs to research since 2010; NSF funding has not maintained pace with inflation since that time. In addition, CNSF and the Social and Behavioral Sciences Campaign have met with numerous Congressional appropriations staff to seek support for all sciences, including SBE, at NSF.


Overall funding levels will remain tight. Just how tight remains the question. Once the top-line number is set, it will then be divided among appropriations subcommittees. Only then will we have a better sense of what the agencies will receive.


FABBS has joined its colleagues in these coalitions to support funding increases for science at NIH and NSF. We will keep you abreast of the latest developments throughout the year.

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