Washington, D.C. – Among the close-knit group of University of Georgia alumni in Washington, D.C., mid-June signals the coming of one of UGA’s biggest events outside the state of Georgia: the annual UGA in Washington reception held in the East Hall of historic Union Station. Attended by more than 500 people—ranging from congressmen, senators and their staffs to area alumni living in Virginia and Maryland—this event showcases UGA’s prominence in our nation’s capital.
During his time in D.C. for the UGA in Washington reception, UGA President Jere W. Morehead had the opportunity to attend a breakfast meeting of the Science Coalition—a D.C.-based advocacy organization that is dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in basic scientific research and protecting America’ preeminence in research innovation.
As a member of the coalition, UGA joins over 50 of the nation’s top research universities—including Harvard, Stanford and UPenn—in a common objective to educate policymakers on the important role the federal government plays in furthering each university’s research mission of developing innovative, cutting-edge solutions to some of our world’s most complex challenges.
Each month, the Science Coalition invites prominent members of Congress to breakfast discussions with its member institutions’ government relations representatives on the importance and impact of scientific research to the American economy. Wednesday’s breakfast was notable for its focus on the state of Georgia and its flagship university: UGA. Morehead had the privilege of introducing the first Georgia member of Congress to be invited to such a meeting by the Science Coalition: Congressman Tom Price (GA-6), the chairman of the House Budget Committee. Morehead highlighted Price’s service to the state as well as to the scientific community—placing special focus on Price’s medical career at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
During the breakfast, Price provided attendees—representing a diverse set of universities including Harvard, Michigan, Washington State, Emory and Georgia Tech—with a straightforward assessment of the budgetary challenges facing the U.S. Before fielding questions from his audience, Price reiterated his key takeaway for scientific research funding: not until Congress is able to address the unrestrained growth in mandatory spending (i.e. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) will the U.S. be able to invest further in scientific research and development.
As Price explained, discretionary spending—which funds everything from research to national defense to the National Endowment for the Arts—is being “crowded out” by mandatory spending obligations meaning over the coming years, less and less revenue would be available to prioritize.
Price highlighted his extensive work as Budget Committee chairman in crafting a budget resolution that, if followed, would balance the nation’s budget in 10 years and achieve trillions of dollars in savings over the coming decades. Other topics of discussion included his assessment of long-term legislative priorities such as infrastructure investment, graduate medical education and the future of the Affordable Care Act.