As described in our previous post, SPEaC participated in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) 50-State Challenge where we met with the local offices of Texas congressmen to open a dialog between scientists and Texas policy-makers and promote NIH-funded scientific research. Since our previous post about our meeting with Representative Mark Veasey, SPEaC has been able to meeting with the local offices of three additional Texas congressmen:
Senator Ted Cruz
Senator John Cornyn
Representative Pete Sessions
Overall, each one of these meetings was positive. Historically, both Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn have been fiscally conservative and under the current funding environment are reluctant to allocate more funds toward government-funded scientific research. However, we think it’s important to try to promote communication with the Senators’ offices particularly because Senator Cruz is currently serving on the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation that has worked on America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2014. Furthermore, Senator Cornyn serves on the Senate Subcommittee for Health Care as part of the Senate Committee on Finance. So, both Senators will be involved in the prioritization of scientific research and health care as the country moves forward. We approached each of these meetings as an opportunity to introduce our group and provide information about how federally-funded research dollars leads to improved economic health. The staffers in each office were interested in learning about how tax dollars for research not only promote scientific research but also technology, innovation, and jobs. Also, the Cruz office offered to involve SPEaC in political outreach events, which will be a new venue for us but may offer a unique opportunity to learn about the priorities of the community and enhance our scientific communication skills.
Representative Sessions is the chairman of the House Rules Committee, which has control over how legislation moves through the House. Representative Sessions serves the 32rd district, which includes areas around Dallas like University Park, Richardson, Garland, Sachee and Wylie. Representative Sessions has voted to support technological innovation and STEM education but overall is also fiscally conservative having voted against the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Our meeting emphasized how scientific investment up-front leads to positive economic impact, public health, education innovation, and global outcomes later. The staffers were also particularly interested about SPEaC and our goals and even asked to attend one of our meetings to learn more about what we do.
Overall, the ASBMB 50-State Challenge helped us start to get our name out to the Texas congressmen and the Dallas community. We were able to offer our scientific expertise as a resource and our future participation in STEM initiatives moving through each the congressmen’s office. We are excited to continue developing our relationships with the staffers we met so we can advocate for and promote scientific research.
Editor: Devon C.