Articles, Blog

Signal Boost: January 2018

Welcome to the first Signal Boost of 2018. I’m Greg Mack with the APS Office of Government
Affairs. And yes, you heard me right – we’ve changed
our name from Public Affairs to Government Affairs in order to more accurately reflect
the mission of our APS office. Speaking of the government, there’s a lot
going on, so let’s get into it. The government shut down since Congress and
the White House could not reach a budget agreement, but it’s back in business with yet another
short term extension to February 8. Now, I’ll remind you that shutdowns and
short term fixes aren’t good for science. During a shutdown, non-essential federal employees
can’t work, so, for example, NSF can’t process new grants and only DOE user facilities
that have reserve funding are operational. Short term fixes aren’t helpful, because
that means that federal agencies can’t plan ahead since they don’t know how much money
they’re going to have. They also can’t fund new programs because
they’re working with the previous budget’s operating plan. Discussions are still ongoing for the actual
Fiscal Year 2018 budget and a spending deal. The House and Senate still have yet to conference
their bills – yes, those same bills that APS members contacted Congress about last
year. And, APS Members have another opportunity
to be advocates now. In fact, about 50 APS members from across
the country are going to be out on Capitol Hill later this week. They’ll be advocating on the federal budget
and other important issues for the physics community. February 1st is the APS Unit Leader Congressional
Visits Day, where volunteers from APS Unit Leadership will go in groups to Senate and
House offices to be physics advocates. As constituents of those offices, they’ll
be bringing up two main issues, and one or two others depending on their interests. They’ll be talking of course about the need
for increased support for the science agencies, specifically NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office
of Science. They’ll do this from a workforce development,
economic competitiveness, and national security perspective, and address the long term impacts
of basic research investment. They’ll also discuss the need to include
scientific infrastructure in any infrastructure initiative developed by Congress and the White
House. Along with those two main issues, depending
on their personal interests, they’ll urge support for science education funding, discuss
reform of the H-1B visa program, and address an upcoming government report on climate change’s
effects on national security. And, you can add your voice to theirs from
the comfort of your very own computer or mobile device! On the APS Advocacy Dashboard, you can learn
more about each of those five advocacy issues and take action through an email, tweet, or
phone call. Join in on your own day of advocacy and help
be a voice for physics! Also, if you want to learn more about why
a spending deal that raises the budget caps is important, check out the op-ed that APS
OGA worked on with Mike Mayo, President of Nanohmics, a small business in Austin, TX. We asked APS members to contact Texas Senator
John Cornyn about that, too. There’s a whole lot to look out for this
coming year in science policy, including the fiscal year 2019 budget. I’ll keep you updated on our Congressional
Visits Day and other issues in our February Signal Boost.

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