One more chance to support the NIH

Sadly, unlike my post a couple of hours ago, this is not an April Fools jest.

Evolgen previously reported on the success of the Specter-Harkin Amendment in the Senate to change a completely flat National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget containing actual real cuts to the budget of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to one with a modest increase in fiscal year 2007. Both the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and Genetics Society of America both weighed in when the budget was sent to the House in order to garner support in committee for adding an amendment similar to the Specter-Harkin Amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services budget. Now Evolgen and The Daily Transcript update the story.

Apparently, the effort to add this amendment to the HHS budget has failed, with the House Budget Committee electing to go with a version of the HHS budget that resembles the President’s meager budget. Our next chance to alter this outcome comes next week, when the House will consider the HHS budget. Rep. Michael Castle’s (R-DE) is planning to introduce a bill to amend the budget resolution on the House Floor to include $7 billion the Senate added for health and education programs to the FY 2007 budget. I join Evolgen in urging everyone to let their representatives know that they support this amendment.

Evolgen tells how. You can locate the contact information for your Representative here.

I plan on contacting mine, but I know from previous experience that he already strongly supports such a measure. Consequently, my show of support will just be preaching to the choir. What’s really needed is for people living in districts whose Representatives oppose or are equivocal about this amendment to make their voices heard. In fact, it just occurred to me. Next week just happens to be the week that the yearly meeting of the AACR, and it just so happens that the AACR is meeting in Washington, DC this year. Thousands of biomedical researchers are even now descending upon Washington for the meeting, and I plan on joining them tomorrow morning. Letters, phone calls, and FAXes are good and effective, but there are few things more effective than to pay a personal visit to the office of your Representative to make your views known. If you’re going to the AACR this week, you’ll never have a better opportunity to influence your Representative to vote favorably on the Castle Amendment to modestly increase the HHS and NIH budgets.

Imagine the effect of hundreds or even thousands of scientists making personal visits to their Representatives’ offices.