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AWIS in Action! July 2012-Survey
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AWIS In Action!

 Advocacy & Public Policy Newsletter   ~   July 2012
In This Issue
Advocacy Survey Results
Advocacy Survey Results
Foremost, I wish to express my gratitude to all the AWIS members who participated in the AWIS Advocacy Survey that I sent out a few weeks ago. Your input on that survey (as well as to the other surveys my colleagues have either already sent or will be sending out later this summer) has been invaluable to helping me understand what issues are most important to those we represent. If you have not had the opportunity to quickly take the survey, it will be open for one more week and then I will analyze the final results. The issues that have been most important according to your feedback thus far are pay equity and the lack of women in leadership.
Advocating vs. Lobbying: Many of you expressed an interest in learning the difference between advocacy and lobbying. Advocacy is generally defined as providing education about something broad, such as a cause or idea. By comparison, lobbying most frequently means asking for endorsement of something more concrete such as a specific piece of legislation. Non-profits are classified into groups by the Internal Revenue Service based on their stated mission. Organizations like the NRA, AARP, AIPAC, etc. can engage in unlimited lobbying. Advocacy groups like AWIS cannot give money, endorsement, or support besides information to candidates from either party which is very important because it allows us to remain bipartisan.
Sequester: Many of you also had questions regarding the threat of sequester. This term was introduced into U.S. law for the federal budget in 1985 and it means an automatic spending cut is triggered by some event. Last summer when the debt ceiling needed to be raised, it was acknowledged that Congress had to get spending under control. Therefore, the Budget Control Act was passed which said that a committee of both parties would get together to come up with a plan to balance taxing and spending. The incentive for both sides to reach an agreement was failure to do so would trigger a Sequester. This sequestration was put into the Budget Control Act as a painful, worst-case scenario to force both sides to come together otherwise they would be causing deep cuts in things that were important to each party; Republicans would see big cuts in Defense spending, Democrats would see big cuts in social spending. And thus, because they failed to reach an agreement last summer, these cuts of 7.8% across the board will take effect in January 2013 if no further compromise is reached. Experts in D.C. are pessimistic about the ability of Congress to reach a compromise and thus many, particularly in the defense sector, are starting to prepare for the worst case scenario which will mean vast layoffs. A report just released by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education details domestic cuts to a variety of programs by state to give a sense of the damage sequestration will have on an enormous range of issues. This also means deep cuts to all scientific funding agencies and thus fewer grants and much lower rates of grant approval for the future beyond just the next fiscal year.
Advocating with AWIS: Many of you expressed an interest in joining our advocacy initiatives. We are working on getting material together which will be available on the AWIS website. This will include information about ways to reach out to your elected representatives and educational material about how to be most effective when doing so. In the meantime, keep an eye out for op-ed pieces we are working on drafting. Meanwhile, if learning about the threat of sequestration has gotten you concerned, and it ought to regardless what you do for a living, let your Congressmen know why it matters and encourage them to work to find a different solution with people on both sides of the aisle. This is a great link for quickly finding the fastest way to contact your congressmen. As they say, all politics is local, and politicians actually do care what the people they represent think, just like our organization cares about what is important to you. If you are in research, tell them about the value of the work you do and mention the agencies from which you receive funding if it is supported by federal dollars. If you are in industry, let them know how cuts to the publicly funded research will hurt the private sector. If you think education and job training, defense and national security, public safety and law enforcement, public health, weather monitoring and environmental protection, housing and social services, to name a few, are important, consider writing a letter or email briefly explaining why in a few sentences.


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