What not to expect from Trump’s State of the Union address tonight
This evening, President Donald Trump will give his third State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. The constitutionally mandated address usually serves as a preview of a president’s foreign and domestic policy agenda for the year ahead, and it often comes around the same time as the release of the president’s annual budget request. If past as prologue, the scientific community is likely to find Trump’s address disappointing. While he has spoken more than 16,000 words in his previous three addresses, he has mentioned or referenced science only six times.
ASBMB Public Affairs Director Benjamin Corb talks about what President Donald Trump's State of the Union address will likely cover — and what he wishes it would cover. Listen or download.
Trump’s opinion of science has been reflected in his budget requests since taking office in January 2017. Although the National Institutes of Health has received billions of dollars in increases during his administration, those increases came from Congress — and they came in spite of Trump’s calls to cut funding at the NIH and most other science-funding agencies in every single one of his budget requests. (When the president last month tried to take credit for the steady drop in cancer-related deaths in the United States, the fact-checkers were quick to point out that he’d asked for $4.5 billion in cuts from the NIH last year.)
Beyond funding, there are policy decisions that tell the story of this administration’s views of science and scientists.
- Seven days after taking office, Trump issued the first of several executive orders and proclamations closing America’s borders to people from predominantly Muslim nations. One of the effects was that scientists from those nations were prevented from attending conferences in the U.S.
- Before Trump nominated Kelvin Droegemeier in August 2018 to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, he’d kept the position vacant longer than any time in the history of the office.
- In June, the administration announced it would move two U.S. Department of Agriculture research institutes from the D.C. area to Kansas. The Washington Post editorial board said the decision “suggests an intention by the administration to encourage qualified analysts to leave government and stifle independent and objective research.”
- Indeed, in December, the New York Times published a detailed report on how the administration has worked to reduce the role that federal scientists play in policymaking.
No, we shouldn’t expect the president to make many references to science tonight, but that will not change our focus or determination to advocate on behalf of you. We will continue to build bipartisan support in Congress and advocate for science in all parts of government.
Anti-globalization rhetoric threatens scientific and technological progress: The U.S. depends on international collaborations and immigrants to solve domestic and global problems.
Trump’s travel ban: Lana Saleh of New England Biolabs shared her immigration story as the effects of Trump's travel bans emerged.
The travel ban is why I can’t be at the ASBMB annual meeting: An ASBMB travel award winner found himself the target of the travel ban.
Join the ASBMB Today mailing list
Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.
While the agency has made progress with intramural cases, it has been less successful with extramural ones.
What the Supreme Court's DACA ruling means for undocumented students and the colleges and universities they attend
At least for now, hundreds of thousands of students can stay in school without facing new hardships.
As a result of the Trump administration’s actions and inaction, Ben Corb writes, the U.S. was late to adopt a testing protocol to help track and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The agency has investigated 189 scientists suspected of violating NIH policies and has found a majority of them guilty of failing to disclose foreign affiliations.
The Endless Frontier Act would rename, add a directorate to and pump up to $100 billion in new funding into the agency. It also would fix the uneven distribution of jobs and capital concentrated now in just a few cities.