John Gavenonis thanks Senator Chris Coons for sponsoring the United States Senate Resolution designating 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry.
On October 4-5, 2011, John Gavenonis was in Washington, D.C. for ACS Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs (CCPA) meetings. During the second day of the meetings, ACS members from CCPA and the Board of Directors visited federal agencies and Congressional offices. At the time, Congress was focused on the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“super committee”). Not many other items were on the legislative agenda. The ACS advocacy message was intended both to address budgetary concerns related to the super committee and to provide a road map for job creation following the release of the super committee’s recommendations.
The main concern of the scientific community regarding the super committee was that only a small fraction of the federal budget, discretionary spending, was considered for cuts. Both entitlement spending and defense spending were essentially “off the table” for political reasons. The discretionary spending that remains accounts for only 15% of the federal budget and includes funding for agencies such as NSF, NIH, NIST, etc. ACS asked legislators to avoid making cuts to the research funding agencies during the super committee deliberations.
The second part of the ACS message focused on the important national priority to reduce unemployment. In 2010, ACS President Joseph Francisco chartered a Task Force on Innovation chaired by Harvard Professor George Whitesides and charged with providing recommendations for how ACS can play a vital role in ensuring the future competitiveness of the United States chemical enterprise. The task force produced a report entitled, “Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs: Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow,” which can be found on the ACS website (http://www.acs.org/creatingjobs). This report placed ACS in an excellent position to be part of the job growth policy conversation following the release of the super committee recommendations.
During the visit to Capitol Hill, John Gavenonis discussed the messages described above with Senator Chris Coons and his senior policy advisor Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, along with Katherine Targett (office of Senator Tom Carper) and Jenny Kane (office of Congressman John Carney). In addition, a key part of the meeting with Senator Coons was thanking him for sponsoring S.Res.283: A resolution designating the year of 2011 as the “International Year of Chemistry,” which passed the Senate on September 26 with broad bipartisan support (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112sres283ats/pdf/BILLS-112sres283ats.pdf). John presented the Senator with an International Year of Chemistry lapel pin, which is visible in the accompanying photograph. Coverage in the November 14, 2011 edition of Chemical & Engineering News can be found at http://cen.acs.org/articles/89/i46/Congressional-Appreciation.html.
The Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee thanks Senator Coons, Franz Wuerfmannsdobler, Katherine Targett, and Jenny Kane for taking the time to discuss policy items of importance to ACS.