Message from the Pittsburgh AAS Meeting
Peter B. Boyce
Congressman Doyle Tells Scientific Community to Act
Members of the AAS were treated to a special insight into Washington politics today as Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), a Democrat from the
Pittsburgh area and member of the House Science Committee, talked about the effects of the budget cuts on science programs at NSF and NASA.
The budget proposed by Representative Kasich makes deep cuts which will propagate into major cuts for the science at NASA. Congressman Doyle
offered an amendment last week which would have kept the nation on the "balanced budget glide path". The amendment, which lost by one vote in
the Subcommittee, would have restored some of the cuts in science by removing the large tax cuts in the Kasich bill.
Congressman Doyle painted a gloomy picture, but said that many of the science committee members are, like him, freshmen and have a lot to
learn about the importance of science for America's future. In discussion, he urged every scientist to make an effort to educate their Congressman.
For everyone wishing to communicate effectively with Congress, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
1. Talk about the importance of science in Broad issues, Do not make a special pleading for your project or just your science -- except as part of the
nation's overall science program.
2. Do not make negative statements about other programs . This is extremely counterproductive.
3. Keep your science explanations VERY simple. Congressmen do not have the time or background to understand the scientific nuances which
may be important to you.
Congressman Doyle went on to say that it will be a long summer, and the budget process will take some time as the various compromises will have to be reached. But the time to act is now.
Doyle said that at present, the budget numbers are low, and that, over the course of the summer, the compromises between the Senate and the House will probably result in raising the amounts in the House budget bill. However, there is no assurance that the numbers will, in fact, be higher at
the end of the process or that any increases will go to restoring science cuts. Doyle urged the science community to act soon so educate Congress on the importance of supporting basic research.
The list of members of the relevant committees are available on the AAS Homepage under the Public Policy link. Congressman Doyle pointed out
that even if your Congressman is not on the science Committee or the Appropriations Committees, write him anyway and ask him to contact his
colleagues on the relevant committees and urge support for the investment in the future that basic research represents.
The speech given by Doyle is available on the AAS Homepage at http://www.aas.org/
The speech contains links to the addresses of members of Congress.
Dr. Peter B. Boyce
Executive Officer, AAS