Stand Up for Science in the Budget
President Trump' full 2018 budget proposal is page after page of complete disregard for science and public health protections. His budget proposal slashes spending on badly needed programs, from feeding the hungry to adapting to climate change, all to make our money available for a border wall, uncalled for growth in military spending, and other bad choices that are not in line with our values.
We cannot afford these crippling cuts to programs that advance science, keep our air and water clean, and protect our children’s health. That’s where you come in! We need to send Congress a message as loud and clear as President Trump has: fund the science-based protections our communities need.
Reach out to the people who represent you in Washington, D.C.: your representative and your two senators. They work for you, so it’s their job to listen to you, and many are worried about the public reaction to President Trump’s budget.
Here are some simple ways to have a big impact:
How do you get Congress to listen to you?
The three most effective things you can do
- Drop-by a district office
- Go to a town hall meeting
- Pick up the phone
What to say? Talking points on the budget
Want more to do?
The more personal your action, the better. Ask anyone who’s ever worked on Capitol Hill and they’ll tell you – the best way to influence a member of Congress is to speak with them in person. If you can’t do that, a phone call is best. One in-person conversation with your senator is worth countless petition signatures.
Remember, they work for you, and it’s their job (or their staff’s) to listen to you. Always be courteous to the people you speak with, but don’t be afraid to call or show up at your congressperson’s office – that’s what they are there for!
Don’t assume someone else has spoken out enough already. We can never make too much noise about the issues we care about. Even if you called yesterday, call again today.
Bring a friend. Multiply your impact by inviting friends, community leaders, neighbors and networks to join you. Are your or someone you know active in a local political or civic engagement group? Reach out and share with the group what the budget cuts mean for science and the environment. Does your university have an environmental club? Forward them this toolkit or invite them to join UCS!
Your goal: To speak with the senator or representative’s staff about the funding cuts that worry you, and ask them to prevent any cuts to these already underfunded, yet vital, programs.
- Look up the locations of the district offices nearest you on their websites – search for your senators here and your representative here. They usually list their office addresses at the very bottom of the website.
- Use our talking points and prepare what you’d like to say to each member. It’s a good idea to practice before you show up at their office.
- Print or clip any materials you’d like to bring with you, like a recent news article about the budget, or a UCS report or blog post
At the office: When you arrive, ask the staff who greet you whether you can speak with the senator/representative, and if not, who the best staff person to ask about policy is. If you do get to sit down with someone besides the person at the front desk, great! If not, that’s ok too – share your thoughts and materials with whoever gives you their time, thank them, and ask for their business card.
Hi, my name is ______ and I’m a constituent from [city]. I’m dropping by because I’m really concerned by President Trump’s new budget. I’d like to speak briefly with the senator/representative; is he/she available? [if not] Is there a staff member available I can speak with? I’d like to know the senator/representative’s position on the proposed cuts to [insert issue here]. This would be terrible for our district, so I want to make sure Senator/Representative ____will oppose these damaging cuts! . [insert your personal story or use our talking points]
How can I find out the senator/representative’s position on these proposed cuts?
Tell us how it went! Tell your friends, neighbors, and maybe even the local paper – you could write a letter to the editor about how the Congressperson’s office was (or wasn’t) receptive, how important it is to defend the budget from these cuts, and encourage others to take action themselves! Finally, send an email to the person you spoke with thanking them for their time, and reiterating your questions or concerns.
Your goal: If you have seen recent coverage of congressional town halls, you know how effective they can be for direct contact with elected officials! Your goal is to use a very public forum to make your questions and comments heard by the member, your fellow citizens, and the media. And to get a direct answer from your member of Congress!
- Visit TownHallProject.com to see if your senators and representative are holding any town halls near you this recess. If so, can you make it to one near you? Make plans to go, and bring some friends or family!
- Use our talking points and prepare what you’d like to say to each member. It’s a good idea to practice what you’d like to say in advance of the Town Hall.
- Write or print out your prepared words on an index card so you will have them in front of you.
- Print out a free Stand Up for Science sign to bring with you!
- Recruit a friend to come along and record you asking the question – and the response you get!
At the town hall:
- Arrive early to make sure you get a seat. Ask the facilitators how they will call on people – is there a line, a list, or should you just raise your hand? Plan your strategy to get your time at the mic.
- Take pictures and video during – you may not get to ask your question, but someone else might ask about science, and you can amplify their message!
- Have your talking points handy, and be assertive about getting your question asked.
- Keep your tone courteous, no matter how you may feel about your elected officials – our goal is to raise our concerns in respectful dialogue.
If you captured good photos or video, share them – on Facebook and twitter, using the hashtag #StandUpforScience. And be sure to tell us how it went!
Your goal: If you can’t get face time with your members of Congress or their staff, picking up the phone is the next best thing. Your goal is to make noise about these unacceptable cuts to the protections we need. And since picking up the phone is so easy, you can call as often as you want!
Use our talking points to choose 1 or 2 issues most important to you, and most relevant to your hometown. Think about what the senators and representative are most likely to be moved by, too. Use our sample script to write out what you’d like to say in advance and have paper ready to take notes while you’re on the phone.
Hi, my name is ______, and I’m calling from ________. I’m calling to let Senator _______/Representative _________ know that I strongly oppose cuts to ______ in President Trump’s budget. I’m really worried about this budget, because [insert issue #1, and why it matters to you or in your state]. I’m also worried that cuts to [insert issue #2] will harm our state/district by [insert local impacts of issue #2]. Do you know the senator/representative’s position on those cuts, and the budget as a whole?
If they have no answer, or tell you the member is in favor of those cuts: Okay, would you please tell them that I strongly urge them to oppose these cuts to already underfunded yet vital agencies?
If the senator/rep. is opposed to these cuts: That’s great. Would you thank him/her for me and ask him/her to work to ensure these programs/agencies, which are already underfunded, receive no cuts in funding?
Thank you for your time and for passing on my comments to the senator/representative.
On the phone:
- Have your script in front of you, and a pen and paper to take notes on the conversation.
- Call the U.S. Capitol at (202) 224-3121; they’ll direct you to your representative or one of your senators. Remember to be courteous, and if you don’t get through, try looking up the phone number for your nearest district office instead.
- If you get sent to voicemail, share your thoughts in the voicemail and be sure to state your name and home address, so they’ll know you are a constituent and so they’ll record your position on the budget.
After: Pick up the phone again, and call your other senator and your representative too. Save their office numbers in your phone, so you can always call when you need to make your voice heard. And be sure to tell us how it went!
UCS is half a million supporters strong, so have no doubt: with your help, we can defend science and public health protections from funding cuts. With everyone taking action this week, Congress won’t be able to ignore you.
We read the whole budget proposal so you don’t have to. The budget is many pages long, with deep cuts to many programs that we depend on for public health and safety, for scientific progress, and more. All of it matters, but we recommend picking just 1 or 2 points that you are most passionate about. If you’re a scientist, how does your research inform your opinion? If federal funding affects your job, your community’s safety, the air you breathe, the food you eat – choose what you can speak to best.
President Trump’s budget proposal would:
- Devastate programs that feed the hungry and provide assistance to rural and urban farmers. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget would be cut by 21%, with further cuts to programs that leave people more vulnerable. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—a cost-effective program with a track record of success in alleviating hunger and poverty—would be devastated by nearly $193 billion in cuts, or roughly 28%. The decrease will directly lead to suffering and hunger for tens of millions of Americans in communities across the country.
- Cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31%. Despite Administrator Scott Pruitt’s claim that he would prioritize Superfund clean-ups, these heavily polluted sites would lose $330 million in clean-up funding. (See if there’s a Superfund site near you). Many of them lie in low-income and minority communities. On top of that, all funding for the Office of Environmental Justice would be eliminated.
- Slash funds for energy innovation. A 69% cut to the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy program and the erasure of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) mean the United States will fall behind the fast pace of energy innovation, and severely limit the agency’s work collaborating with businesses to make our nation more sustainable. And other cuts mean we would take a step backwards when it comes to vehicle technology, slashing some research funds by 70% and completely eliminating the successful Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM), which has helped automakers and suppliers develop stop-start technology, batteries for electric vehicles, and more.
- Eliminate the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) flood hazard mapping and cut funding for the National Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program by nearly 61%. These programs help states, local governments and communities plan and implement long-term measures to reduce the risks and losses from disasters. This program is already underfunded relative to the real and increasing need in communities. Investments in pre-disaster hazard mitigation are important and present an opportunity to target federal aid to the highest risk areas in a cost-effective and well-thought out way.
- Eliminate funding for Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, all popular programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This would create long-lasting repercussions for scientific research, national security, and emergency preparedness.
- Take away more than $33 million in research programs that help farmers maintain profitability and adapt. Funding for critical USDA programs like the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SARE), would be cut. All funds for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, badly needed, would be gone. This denies farmers the science they need to maintain economic profitability and adapt to the harsh realities of a changing climate, and would leave our nation’s natural resources more at risk from pollution.
Share this toolkit with your friends and ask them to get involved, too. We need everyone’s help to stand up for science and push back against any cuts to vital programs in the budget.
If you’re a scientist, you have an especially important role to play in defending science in policy. Check out our Watchdog Toolkit, with resources tailored to informing scientists to get engaged. Sign up to help UCS watchdog for science, to get breaking information on threats to science and opportunities to support science-based decision-making.