Science and Engineering Students Hand-Deliver Message to U.S. House Leaders and Senators in Local Offices:

Sequestration Would Harm Our Future and Nation’s Economic Growth

By Tawanda W. Johnson

physics student visits congress

Wesleyan University student Guy Geyer (right) delivers a petition urging Congress to stop sequestration to Frank Rowe, a staffer in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

Science and engineering students recently hand-delivered a petition to the local offices of all U.S. senators and House leaders, requesting that sequestration be halted because it would harm their future as innovators and hurt economic growth in the United States. The students represent numerous scientific societies across the United States, including the American Physical Society.

Mandatory cuts to federal funding as outlined in the Budget Control Act, were scheduled to take place in early January. But under the fiscal deal that was struck between Congress and the president,  across-the-board budget cuts to non-defense discretionary funding fell from 8.2 percent to 5.9 percent due to an agreement on taxation.  The percentage cut on defense discretionary funding fell from 9.4 percent to 7.3 percent.

Sequestration is now set to happen in March, unless Congress acts. The cuts would harm budgets at key science agencies focused on research that could lead to advances in energy, national security and health care.

About 6,200 students signed the petition and mobilized across all 50 states to ensure the hand-delivery of the document to senators and U.S. House leaders. It states that while Americans must tighten their financial belts, they should not compromise future prosperity. It further urges Congress to find a responsible path toward reducing the deficit as noted by the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee. “We urge you to resume consideration of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that not only ensures fiscal stability but also sustains the scientific and technological enterprise that is responsible for 70 percent of modern economic growth…As future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we will be the ones to build a better America, but we cannot begin that journey without the necessary training or future job prospects,” states the petition.

Adds John Mergo, a physics graduate student at Cornell University and initiator of the petition, “If you want future growth for the economy, then you should not cut federal funding for science, which has contributed to more than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II. In addition, we want to continue to attract the best and brightest scientists to the United States. The transformational breakthroughs that have improved our lives won’t continue if young scientists leave the country and start their labs overseas.”

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