What's on tap for 2016

As the calendar turns to 2016, our attention shifts to what concerned scientists can expect from Washington during a presidential election year. Let’s dust off the crystal ball and make some predictions for the coming year.

Funding

With the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act, we got a total spending level established for fiscal year 2017. Add this to the fiscal year 2016 spending bill, which provided measurable increases to the National Institutes of Health's budget, and it feels as though a lot of the fiscal advocacy heavy lifting has been done. Considering that 2016 is not only a presidential election year but also an election year for the entire U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate, we know that Congress will be in recess more often than usual, leaving less time for legislating. Thus, we anticipate a continuing resolution will be the most likely outcome of the appropriations process this year.

Thanks to the hard work of U.S. Reps. Fred Upton R-Mich., and Dianna DeGette D-Colo., who pushed the 21st Century Cures Act through the House last summer, the research community should keep an eye out for nonappropriations opportunities. This year the Senate is expected to release and discuss its own bill aimed at helping researchers: the Innovation for Healthier Americans Act. These two bipartisan legislative initiatives, which are intended to help the research community develop treatments for those suffering with diseases, have the potential to move quickly and become feel-good stories of bipartisan legislating done right in 2016.

Sustaining the enterprise

Over the past several years, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Public Affairs Action Committee has focused on the issue of sustaining the biomedical research enterprise. We are very excited to announce that next month we will hold a stakeholders summit on the topic. During the summit, thought leaders will develop ideas about how best to sustain the enterprise, and following the summit, the ASBMB will announce an advocacy strategy designed to implement those ideas.

New initiatives

Your public affairs staff isn’t stopping with funding and sustainability. We’re exploring new ways to engage those society members who want to play more active roles in our advocacy efforts, including developing local opportunities for postdocs to present their science in a way that promotes not only amazing research but also pride in their home states. We’re continuing to strengthen and broaden our blog, so it’s the source for goings-on in Washington, D.C., that may affect your laboratory. We’ll also be publishing a monthly advocacy newsletter to make information even more accessible to you. Finally, we are beginning an analysis of basic science study sections at the NIH to try to identify ways the NIH can better serve the needs of the basic science community.

This year, like every year, is about our members — how we can best serve you and represent you to the policymakers here in the capital. If you like what we’re doing, have questions about what we’re doing or want to share your ideas, reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you. We are available via email or on Twitter.

Benjamin Corb Benjamin Corb is director of public affairs at ASBMB.