The day after the spring ASCB Council Meeting, eight ASCB Council members were joined by five members of ASCB committees for a series of meetings on Capitol Hill. The Council members included ASCB President Jodi Nunnari, ASCB President-elect Andrew Murray, ASCB Treasurer Gary Gorbsky, ASCB Secretary Kerry Bloom, and Council members Bob Goldstein, Julie Theriot, Rebecca Heald, and Janet Iwasa. Also joining were Minorities Affairs Committee member Deepali Bhandari, Committee for Postdocs and Students member Rocio Gomez, Public Policy Committee member Sue Jaspersen, and Membership Committee members Sadie Wignall and Andrew Ewald.
The Council and committee members had meetings with 29 congressional offices from 10 states. During their meetings, ASCB members thanked the members of Congress and congressional staff for the $3 billion increase the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) received in the FY18 federal budget and the 3.9% increase for the National Science Foundation. ASCB members did express concern about possible restrictions on certain areas of NIH-funded research that could be included in the FY19 NIH budget.
Members of Congress do not always understand how important an open U.S. immigration policy is to the American biomedical research community. ASCB’s leadership took the opportunity to remind Congress of the importance of immigration.
Finally, in their meetings with Senate offices, ASCB members raised concerns about HR 70, Federal Advisory Committee Act Amendments of 2017, a bill with the aim of prohibiting politically motivated appointments to federal advisory committees. The bill, which could be approved by the Senate and signed into law by the president, has the unintended consequence of imposing significant administrative burdens on NIH study section participants.