ALERT: More Congressional Visits Days in September

(Posted 8-3-05)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

Although the economy is showing signs of a rebound, we are still fighting a war on terrorism at home and abroad. With the President's goal of cutting the deficit in half over the next five years, spending cuts will be made in upcoming budget years. Federal agencies that fund basic science research, such as the National Science Foundation, are feeling the pressure, and it is important that these investments in the future be maintained. More than ever, the geoscience community needs to make a strong case to Congress about the value of these programs.

Each spring, members of the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) participates in the Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD), which brings more than 200 scientists and engineers to Capitol Hill to visit Members of Congress and their staff right at the start of the congressional budget cycle. This year, CVD took place on May 10 - 11, 2005. It consisted of an opening day of briefings by key administration and congressional leaders followed by a day of constituent visits with senators, representatives, and their staff. (a brief summary of the AGI visits is provided below and a summary of all the visits is at http://www.aas.org/policy/cvd/.)

Starting in September, Congress will begin the difficult task of reconciling some major differences between the House and Senate spending bills for the major federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Because the May congressional visits were so successful and it is so vital for scientists to communicate with Congress, CNSF is organizing another congressional visits event on September 13-14, 2005. Participants are asked to carry forward a core message urging Congress to support the overall budget for the National Science Foundation. In addition, participants can share their own messages about programs that they see as valuable examples of the federal science and technology enterprise emphasizing, for example, the value of the geosciences to the economy and national security.The coalition hopes to bring together a diverse array of scientists and engineers representing many disciplines for a brief overview of priorities, on the afternoon of September 13, followed by visits on September 14.

We urge you to sign up and participate in this effort. AGI will help arrange visits, and we will be happy to provide you with information about government processes or updates on legislation being considered.

It is vital for geoscientists to be represented in science-community efforts if our discipline is to be a distinctly recognizable and valued element of the congressional view of "science." For anyone interested in science policy, this is an opportunity to meet your elected officials and experience Washington, DC policymaking and budget. In addition, although it is a very busy time for Congress and their staff, they do want to hear from their constituents and they are very enthusiastic about meeting scientists, hearing about their work and understanding how geoscience research and development may relate to national priorities, such as a healthy and robust economy and a secure nation. We especially encourage the leadership of AGI's Member Societies to attend these visits on September 13 and 14.

If you have participated in congressional visits previously, this is a chance to continue building a relationship with your members of Congress and their staff. If not, there is no better time than now to sit down and talk about funding priorities that are important to you and the larger science, engineering and technology community. Because Congressional offices are notoriously small, your meeting may be in the Member's office, before or after a committee hearing or while walking down the hall to vote. Whatever the situation, the experience is sure to be memorable.

For more information, AGI has a number of articles and updates on its Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap) that can provide background and context for some of the issues you may want to discuss.

If you would like to participate on September 13-14, have any questions or would like our assistance in setting up a visit, call Linda Rowan in AGI's Government Affairs Program at (703) 379-2480 x228 rowan@agiweb.org.

******************************** Summary of CVD on May 10-11, 2005 *******************************
Thanks to all who participated in the 10th annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) events on May 10-11, 2005. AGI hosted 12 participants, who were joined by another 10 participants from AGU and visited 35 Congressional offices to raise visibility and support for federal investment in science and engineering. After a day of presentations on the proposed fiscal year 2006 budget for federal geoscience programs, our visitors spent a day sharing their concerns and expertise with representatives, senators and their staff from 10 states.

Among our visitors, Dr. David Bieber, President of the Association of Engineering Geologists and an expert on natural occurring asbestos, became a valuable contact to members of the California delegation, particularly to staff in the office of Senator Feinstein (D), who was busy in a mark-up of the asbestos trust fund bill. Wayne Pennington, a geophysicist at Michigan Tech University, offered Michigan delegates special insight into the direct benefits of federal R&D programs in university science education. During an introductory breakfast on the morning of the visits, Mike Jackson, a geologist from Earthscope, was able to talk with Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) about the Plate Boundary Observatory project that is underway in Inslee's home state.

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Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted August 3, 2005