Congress is poised to return to Washington September 8th after a month long summer recess. Unfortunately though, it is unlikely that they will accomplish much legislative work in the few weeks they will be in session before they adjourn again, this time to campaign for the November elections. That means a Continuing Resolution for the beginning of the fiscal year 2015 (October 1st). In other words, we essentially start the federal fiscal year with the same budget as FY 2014. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office update on the federal budget and economic outlook for 2014 -2024 is essentially flat to negative for discretionary funding, which is where scientific research is supported.
So, with that good news, what can you do personally? It is essential that you reach out to your elected officials while they are back in your districts. If you didn’t get a chance during this past month, please make the effort during campaign season. I hope that you will convey how your community relies on science, both in economic and social terms. All politics is truly local, and if you don’t have the ear of your representatives, then someone else with a very different agenda may have undue influence. It is important to invite your congressional delegation members to your institution so they can see first-hand your enthusiasm and the importance of your science and science in general, for the good of their district, their state, and our nation. We need to be passionate about translating our science into terms that policy makers can understand and act upon. And, we need to convey, embrace and engage what we don’t fully understand, because that is where science will make the difference between generating good decisions versus poor ones. At the end of the day, we elect these people to represent us and to make informed decisions on our behalf. I feel strongly that it is our responsibility as citizens of this country to make sure that they have the best information available.
I hope you enjoy this Labor Day weekend and summer’s finale.