Vision Community on Hill As Congress Passes FY2018 Omnibus Spending Bill
During the week of March 19, as Congress faced a March 23 expiration date for the fifth Continuing Resolution (CR) that funded the government, vision community advocates were on Capitol Hill. Just as rumors indicated that a negotiated Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill would soon issue, more than 80 members of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) visited their Congressional delegations to support National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding increases. Two days later, as the House was taking floor action on the Omnibus bill entitled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, with significant funding increases for the NIH/NEI, NAEVR hosted Private Vision Research Funding Foundations in Congressional visits to support the bill and urge a robust FY2019 increase. Advocates also had one last chance to ask their Senators to support the bill, as the Senate did not complete their floor action until early the next morning.
On March 20, AAPOS members visited their Congressional delegation offices with NAEVR-generated messages about the value of NEI-funded pediatric research among several requests. NAEVR's James Jorkasky attended the March 19 preparatory session for the event, which was managed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
|Left: James Jorkasky with AAPOS President Derek Sprunger, MD (Indiana University School of Medicine), right with Iris Kassem, MD, PhD (Medical College of Wisconsin) and John Brabyn, PhD (Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute). Dr. Kassem participated in AEVR's Third Annual Emerging Vision Scientists Day on Capitol Hill in September 2017.
On March 22, as the House was considering the FY2018 Omnibus billNAEVR hosted a Private Vision Research Funding Foundations Advocacy Day with attendees of the previous day's Fifth Annual Vision Research Funding Partnership event, hosted by Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB, see below). Advocates described the importance of their organizations to the state/district and their role in providing early-stage and bridge funding for investigators. They also recognized the prior evening's Congressional Reception celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the NEI by Congress.
From left: Morgan Brand from the office of Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) with RPBs Brian Hofland, PhD and Diana Friedman. The group also visited the office of Cong. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, just as the House concluded its vote on the bill.
Sandra Blackwood (International Retinal Research Foundation), right, and Torrey DeKeyser (EyeSight Foundation of Alabama) with Katie Campbell in the office of recently-elected Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)
Ms. DeKeyser (left) visited Cong. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), a House Appropriator, and his staffer Megan Medley
Representatives of the American Macular Degeneration Foundation with Cong. Jim Himes (D-CT, second right) from left include: Neena Haider, PhD (Mass Eye & Ear/Harvard), Matt Levine, Chip Goehring, and Paul Gariepy
Kathleen Rydar (That Man May See), right, with Carrie Colla, PhD in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
NEI Director Paul Sieving, MD, PhD joined the Fifth Annual Vision Research Funding Partnership event to update attendees on NEI initiatives. The convening of organizations that support vision research provides an opportunity for funders to discuss potential collaborations with each other. NAEVR has been engaged in the event since the beginning and is pleased to host the accompanying Advocacy Day.