ASM is Spreading Good Science Policy on Capitol Hill

In early September, ASM’s Public and Scientific Affairs Committee (PSAC) participated in a Capitol Hill Day to meet with House and Senate offices and talk about their work and that of ASM. Specifically, Committee members introduced themselves and the Society to Members of Congress and their staff, built support for a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing immunization rates and preventing infectious disease outbreaks, and urged Congress to continue to provide robust funding for microbial research.

This meeting was just a first step in ASM’s efforts to encourage more microbiologists to make their voices heard and advocate for better science policy. If you’ve never been involved with communicating your science to legislators or the public, now is a great time to start and ASM is here to help!

Chair of PSAC, Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, stressed the importance of being engaged in the process. “ASM is building its advocacy program because it recognizes that scientists at all levels need to be involved. Whether you have two minutes to send a message or two days to do a meeting in Washington, DC, fostering the relationship with your Member of Congress is critical to advancing the microbial sciences.”

But even if you’re not able to talk to the Member of Congress directly, their staff can be just as helpful. A first-timer in Hill meetings, Dr. Bill Goldman of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, noted his experience meeting congressional staffers. Dr. Goldman said, “in each office we visited, these young smart people were completely engaged and listened to us intently, asking questions that revealed their depth of understanding both the issues and the legislation…  Their goals for supporting science transcend party lines and conservative/liberal labels.  It’s hard not to feel more hopeful after a day like this.”

On the Hill Day, ASM recognized Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN), who co-chair the Congressional Biodefense Caucus and successfully led the House effort to reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Innovation Act (PAHPA). Passage of PAHPA was a priority for ASM this past year.

ASM is looking to build its advocacy program with more activities and a larger Hill Day next year. It is important for scientists to share their expertise and perspectives with lawmakers. Doing so helps make ties between policy and science stronger, therefore bringing about legislation that can better reflect the needs of the scientific community and support evidence-based policymaking. If you are interested in getting more involved in policy and advocacy through ASM, contact advocacy@asmusa.org.