Well, well, it’s that time of year again: Approps Season!
It’s the time of year when billions and billions of dollars of federal funding is appropriated to various governmental agencies. And I’m not just talking about science funding; I’m talking defense funding, agricultural funding, and arts and culture funding.
It’s the definition of politics in action. What? You don’t know what the definition of politics is?
Here’s my off-the-cuff definition: It’s the fight – verbal and sometimes physical — over who receives the limited resources (including federal funding) in a given society. It’s pretty basic, but that’s pretty much what politics comes down to.
In the U.S. the fight falls into the verbal category, thankfully. As such, it’s the time of year when the APS membership needs to step up and advocate for itself. Otherwise, science funding will go to other programs.
Luckily for the APS Washington Office, the Membership has shown up to advocate! At the APS April Meeting in D.C. (paradoxically, in February this year) and the March Meeting in Portland Ore., more than 1,000 members signed letters to their Congressional representatives asking Congress to pass the President’s budget requests for the DOE Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) into law (See specific numbers for the agencies here).
All three agencies have received good increases in the President’s request, and, as scientists, the Society’s membership should advocate for these funding levels. We aren’t asking Congress to support the President’s entire agenda, just the part that is in line with our Members’ needs, that is, science funding.
The Washington Office will be printing out these letters during the next week and sending them to Capitol Hill. It’s a long process, but nothing worth doing is easy. And thus, another great Approps Season is under way. It smells like citizenry!
By the way, if you weren’t able to attend the APS meetings and would like to send a letter to your representatives, please go to the APS “Write Congress” page. Click on the “2010 Science Funding Letter” or the “Compose Your Own Message” links. It doesn’t matter which one you choose; the first letter is a prepared message, and you have to do very little extra writing; the other one requires that you draft your own letter. Remember, what’s important is to make that contact!