Mostly quiet on sequestration

As regular readers of the Blotter know, across-the-board budget cuts, or sequestration, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 3, 2013 and threatens to cut $2.5 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. While the campaign season is in full swing, solutions to sequestration have not been discussed that much in public. However, that doesn’t mean nothing has happened.

The president made some waves during the final presidential debate when he was talking about the sequester and said, “It will not happen.” Many people on Capitol Hill were surprised to hear President Obama take this stance, and it is being interpreted by some as a departure from his previous position of taking a balanced approach to budget cuts and deficit reduction. Some of the president’s aides walked back his remarks the next day saying that President Obama just meant that he was confident a deal would be reached prior to Jan. 2013.

Rumors around Washington are that the Gang of 8 has made little progress in negotiating a sequestration solution, but they may just be waiting until the presidential election is decided before moving forward. Meanwhile, the Coalition for Health Funding recently held a Hill Day to specifically discuss a balanced approach to sequestration with Congressional members.

In the weeks following the election, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will be calling on all of its members to get involved and have their voices heard regarding sequestration. Other groups will have similar operations. For example, Research!America has launched a “Week of Advocacy” campaign to encourage scientists to voice their opinions about how sequestration will affect biomedical research.  If you want to learn about advocacy, visit ASBMB’s Advocacy Toolkit, and then contact Ben Corb to find out how you can help.

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