Kevin is the Public Policy Director for American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). Before joining the ASCB, Kevin served as Legislative Director for Congressman Bob Weygand (D-RI). Before joining Congressman Weygand's staff, Kevin worked for Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). Kevin is a graduate of the Catholic University of America.
Consider it progress but many in Congress are coming around to the idea that the current system for funding the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal science programs isn't working. Getting everyone on the Hill to agree what should be done to protect research funding is another matter. Now, one senator has come up with a daring new idea on how to shelter biomedical research funding from the budgetary hurricanes blowing through both chambers.
2013 will always be known as the year of sequestration. The inability of Congress to do its job resulted in almost $2 billion in combined cuts to the budgets of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). But there was a bright side to sequestration. The 16-day shutdown of the federal government and the bad press it generated finally forced Congress to do something it had not done in years – pass a budget for the federal government.
"Mine!" being among the favorite words of five-year-olds, their parents find themselves remonstrating, over and over "You can't always have things your way." Apparently, this is a lesson lost on most members of Congress.
Federal scientists, unpack your bags. That's the message from Congress, which for a second time in a matter of weeks passed a bill that would severely limit the ability of federal scientists to attend scientific meetings.
Two days after the government's 16-day closure came to an end, the NIH announced that it would delay the final approval of grant applications submitted in fall 2013 until spring 2014. Two days after that, the NIH changed its mind again, announcing that it would "now reschedule most of the 200+ missed peer review meetings so that most applications are able to be considered at January 2014 Council meetings."
In a move that will reverberate through the NIH extramural community, the NIH announced Friday afternoon how they intend to deal with the massive number of grant applications that were submitted in the days before and during the 16-day government shutdown.
At 12:25 am this morning, President Obama signed legislation ending the 2013 federal fiscal standoff and opening the government after a 16-day shutdown. Minutes later, the Office of Personnel Management sent out an email notifying federal employees that they "are expected to return for work on their next regularly scheduled work day."
Just hours before the government may close down, federal employees around the world are waiting to hear if they will have to go to work in the morning. The question of the day in government buildings is which employees will be declared "essential" or "nonessential." Essential employees must show up for work even if the government is closed.
The inhabitants inside the Washington Beltway love secrets. They love knowing them, they love keeping them, they love letting people know they know them, and they love reading them after someone else has leaked them to a reporter. One Beltway resident recalls a neighbor's garden party where a fellow guest announced that she would have to kill her listener if she were to reveal where she worked. "I'm still not sure if she was serious or not," the party goer recalls somewhat nervously.
Given Inner Washington's passion for secrets, it is curious that the House of Representatives' secret task force on immigration reform has apparently disappeared without a trace.
Sometimes you actually have to feel sorry for members of Congress. In many ways, the job of a member of Congress is all about making choices—which bills to sponsor, which issues to champion, and which bills to vote for. Sometimes there are no good choices.