to Participating in a Congressional Town Hall Meeting: Tips, Sample Questions
and Talking Points
Funding for biomedical research is
under attack in the name of deficit reduction. NIH's inflation-adjusted budget
today is almost 20 percent lower than it was in FY2003. In addition, because
the Congress was unable to reach agreement on how to reduce the deficit by
March 1, President Obama issued an order implementing the automatic,
across-the-board spending cuts known as "sequestration."
Under sequestration, the NIH budget
has been cut by 5 percent (approximately $1.5 billion) in the current fiscal
year, with additional planned cuts over the next decade. While the impact of
these cuts may not be felt all at once or immediately, the harm caused to
biomedical research will be devastating – progress toward cures for deadly
diseases and efforts to prevent costly chronic conditions will be slowed, jobs
will be lost, and America's ability to support a medical research enterprise
that is capable of taking full advantage of existing and emerging scientific
opportunities will be eroded.
these cuts will put an entire generation of young investigators at a
greater risk to abandon their careers in research and medicine, much like many
highly trained and talented researchers have already done over the past decade
because of flat NIH funding.
It's time to hold our lawmakers accountable. Members of
Congress know the impact these cuts have on research and patients and that
balancing the budget takes a balanced approach – they can't and shouldn't do it
by cutting essential jobs and services alone.
Members of Congress often host "Town Hall
Meetings" when they are back home as a way to hear directly from their
constituents. These events offer an excellent opportunity to interact directly
with Members of Congress and remind them of the importance of hematology research
and the NIH.
for the Meeting
your Member of Congress' website, Facebook page or Twitter feed and read
their latest press releases, speeches, newsletters, and/or tweets to find
out how they've voted recently and which issues they are currently
down 1 or 2 brief questions that you would like to ask your Member of
Congress (samples provided below). Make sure they are focused on a
specific subject (like the impact of cuts on your research or the impact
these cuts will have on your patients) or piece of legislation (like the fiscal
year 2014 spending bill for the NIH). Do not include long introductory
statements in your questions. Just state your name and the town where you
live and/or your institution.
asking your question(s) until you can get through it in 25 seconds or
directions to the meeting and research nearby parking and/or public
of the Meeting
a few minutes early and make sure you have your questions ready.
if asked to do so by the congressperson's staff. Introduce yourself to the
staff and offer your business card or other contact information.
- Ask if
you need to sign-up in advance to ask a question.
- Sit in
the front of the audience. If microphones are set up in the aisle, sit as
close to the aisle as possible so you can quickly get to the microphone
when it is time to ask questions.
your cell phone, PDA, and other electronic devices.
research has suffered deep cuts because of sequestration. For example, NIH
has been cut by 5 percent and will be unable to fund over 700 research
of Congress seem to agree these cuts are devastating, but they can't agree
on how to avoid future cuts.
- Do you
understand how these cuts will be harmful to this community and your
- Do you
support a balanced approach to deficit reduction, as all experts have
you work with your colleagues to find a balanced approach and avoid future
- Can I
count on your support for medical research?
Help spread the word! Use these talking points for
conversations with lawmakers, as well as your family members, colleagues,
friends, neighbors, and fellow town hall participants!
research, along with other essential jobs and services such as education,
public safety, and air traffic control, has suffered deep cuts.
medical research specifically, these cuts will mean over 700 fewer
research project grants funded.
2010, these and other core programs and services have borne the brunt of
deficit reduction efforts. These programs are not the drivers of the
deficit—in fact even completely eliminating these programs would not
balance the budget.
- A bevy
of independent experts agree we need a balanced approach to deficit
reduction to balance the budget and avoid additional cuts.
- Members of Congress must work together
to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include
further cuts to essential jobs and services such as medical research.
through a balanced approach can we balance the budget and restore the
nation's economic stability.
Modeled from the Coalition
for Health Funding Guide to Participating in a Congressional
Town Hall Meeting.