The Budget Deal and Our Advocacy Accomplishments in 2013
Just days before they adjourned for the year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA), which creates a blueprint for funding the government in 2014 and 2015. The $85 billion agreement will cancel about half of the spending cuts, known as sequestration, for the current fiscal year, and hold spending largely flat in FY15. We don’t know yet what the deal means for NIH and NCI funding in FY14, as the specific amount that each federal agency receives will be determined by the appropriations committees sometime in early January.
While BBA will not reinstate the level of funding the NIH received prior to sequestration, it does begin the process of restoring what was cut, and more importantly, provides a measure of predictability and stability to the budget process for the next two years. Now the focus turns to the appropriators in Congress who will have some flexibility over the amount that is allocated to each agency. We are joining our coalition partners in asking appropriators to provide $31 billion for the NIH to help reverse some of the damage done by sequestration.
Finding an alternative to sequestration and restoring NIH funding was our chief legislative goal in 2013. The deal that was passed is an important step toward meeting that goal, and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and our impassioned supporters played an important role in making it happen. Our advocates sent more than 22,000 emails and made 4,000 phone calls to their members of Congress last year. On Advocacy Day 2013, approximately 550 advocates from all 50 states gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress and their staff. And two months later, when Congress was home for the August recess, advocates organized and attended 36 district meetings – more than any previous year!
But we didn’t stop there. To help get the attention of congressional leaders, advocates asked their members of Congress to go to the floor of the House or Senate and deliver a one-minute speech about NIH funding and pancreatic cancer. And once again, Congress listened to us. In just the last seven months, 35 Members have delivered floor speeches, some even referencing the impact our volunteers made on them.
Finally, we made great strides this year bringing new people into our advocacy program. This past fall, 87 new volunteers participated in the proclamations process, helping our advocates secure a total of 581 proclamations declaring November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. On social media, too, our advocates’ presence was felt with nearly 1,000 Twitter users joining our June Thunderclap campaign and another 1,000 of our supporters changing their Facebook profile pictures to the “Know It. Fight It. End It.” logo.
We should be proud of our accomplishments, because they have really made a difference. From floor speeches to passage of the BBA, Congress has heard our call for additional NIH funding and responded. Our supporters in Congress are strongly committed to our cause, which would not have happened without the incredible grassroots efforts of our advocates. And for that we cannot thank you enough.
As we head into 2014, key questions loom large on the horizon. How much funding will appropriators allocate for the NIH and NCI? Will gridlock on Capitol Hill continue or will Congress be able to find a permanent replacement to sequestration? If the NIH’s budget is not increased and stabilized, will it impact the implementation of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act? All of these issues and more will be on our plate in 2014 and we’ll need YOUR help to continue making an impact on policymakers in Washington. Sign up here to get involved today!