April 9, 2014 | Scientists from the private sector, universities, and Federal labs needed roller skates to navigate the hallways of Congress last month. Over 200 researchers and educators participated in the 14th annual Science, Engineering, and Technology Congressional Visits Day, meeting with as many key Members of Congress and staff as they could in a whirlwind day of meetings. Their message: to support “predictable and sustained” investments in the nation’s science agencies, including NSF, NOAA, NASA, and DOE.
Wendy Abshire of UCAR’s COMET Program and Mike Chapman from NCAR’s Research Applications Laboratory volunteered to participate in this year’s two-day event. The first day was a primer on the Federal budget and how the appropriations process works, plus preparation for conveying a message in the 15 minutes typical for Hill visit meetings.
Abshire and Chapman had no time to waste. They met with staff from the offices of Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael Bennett (D-CO), and John McCain (R-AZ). On the House side they had face-to-face meetings with Congressmen Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Steve Womack (R-AR).
Reflecting on the experience, Abshire told us:
The whole experience buoyed my feelings about Members of Congress. They have a tough job and hear from a lot of people about a wide variety of issues, almost none of which pertain to science. If they aren't hearing from scientists, we are not a part of the conversation. The best example of this that stuck with me was when we met with a representative of Senator McCain's staff and he thanked us for telling him about real-life examples of scientific research that actually benefit society.
If you would like to participate in next year’s Science, Engineering, and Technology Congressional Visits Day, please contact Mike Henry in UCAR Government Relations.