Maryland’s U.S. Senators Visit NIH
Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski Talk About Sequestration
BY JOSEPH P. TIANO, NIDDK
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) appeared at an NIH Town Hall Meeting on February 8, to express his support for NIH and its mission, to talk about the state of the federal budget and his hope that sequestration—which took effect on March 1—could be avoided, and to field questions from the audience.
NIH Director Francis Collins (left) invited U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to an NIH Town Hall Meeting, on February 8, 2013, to talk about the federal budget and answer questions from NIH employees.
And U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) stopped by—for a tour and press conference—on February 20 to express her concerns.
Sequestration requires mandatory across-the-board budget cuts to all government agencies that would equal $1.2 trillion over 10 years. NIH is required to cut its spending by at least five percent in the remaining seven months of FY2013, or about $1.6 billion.
In his opening remarks, Senator Cardin praised and thanked NIH and its employees for the “world-class” research that has led to treatments for disease. He then presented a general but optimistic description of what NIH employees can expect from Congress in the coming months. He said sequestration could cost our economy thousands of jobs and that “these across-the-board cuts [mandated by sequestration] were never intended to take effect.”
Senator Cardin and NIH Director Francis Collins then fielded about a dozen questions from the audience, including some on sequestration:
What is the most effective way that federal employees can protest the budget cuts?
Senator Cardin suggested that NIHers “put a face on the issue. [You’re] real people, [you] have real lives.” He said to personalize our jobs and NIH achievements and point out that we are on the front lines of public service. He stressed that “the reason why the federal workforce is attacked is because it’s an attack on government. It’s not an attack on what [you] do.”
How will sequestration affect jobs at the NIH?
Senator Cardin said that if sequestration happens on March 1 and Congress does not correct it within “a matter of weeks and it goes on for months, then administrative heads must produce the savings that is required in the FY2013 budget.” The options for NIH are cutting back on grant funding and furloughs without pay.
The full town hall meeting, which took place February 8, 2013, can be viewed at http://videocast.nih.gov/launch.asp?17795. To read the NIH Record’s article about Senator Cardin’s visit, go to https://nihrecord.nih.gov/sites/recordNIH/files/pdf/2013/NIH-Record-2013....
At a press conference held at NIH on February 20, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) talked about the impact of sequestration.
Senator Mikulski, during the February 20 press conference held in NIH’s Clinical Center, talked about the impact that sequestration and its automatic spending cuts would have on NIH. Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, was joined by NIH Director Francis Collins, Nobel Prize winner Carol Greider (director of the Johns Hopkins Molecular Biology and Genetics Department), and a Clinical Center patient. “We talk a lot about threats to the United States,” Mikuslski warned, “but what we are about to inflict upon us is a self-inflicted wound.”