This is an exciting time to work in science. There are some revolutionary possibilities, but often elected officials are uninformed—or misinformed—about the potential advancements. The BPS wants to make it easy for Society members to be involved in the process and to educate policymakers on science issues. To do so, the Society provides members with the latest information on legislative and regulatory issues happenings in Washington, D.C through newsletter articles and legislative updates sent via email. The Society also provides the tools members need to help educate Members of Congress, the media, and the general public.
Over the last decade, Society members have traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Members of Congress, have held district meetings with their respective Members of Congress, have provided Congressional Testimony, and have written opinion pieces for local and national news outlets promoting science research.
Your help is essential in continuing to reach our nation’s leaders. While significant scientific progress has been made in the past decade, there are competing forces in the political arena willing to set science back 100 years. These groups have the resources, the volunteers and the funding to make real and lasting political changes. Don’t let America fall behind in scientific innovation and research. The scientific community should be the most outspoken authority on matters of science policy, your voice is too important to go unheard.
BPS members interested in science policy issues can sign up to receive the legislative updates via email by contacting the Biophysical Society Membership department: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABCs of Advocacy
As the world shrinks and advocacy groups begin to adapt their message for specific audiences, elected officials find themselves inundated with special interests (biomedical research, education, transportation, agricultural, and countless others). To reach Members of Congress, the messages you deliver have to be accurate, believable and clear (ABC).
- Accurate: The information presented to Members and their staff must be accurate. Have sources readily available and be prepared to provide further information after the meeting.
- Believable: Let the information sell itself; explain the possibilites, but do not exaggerate. Credibility is essential.
- Clear: Keep the science simply. Remember, few outside the scientific community fully understand the language. When advocating for biomedical research, connect your research to a disease, its causes and possible cures.
Meeting Your Member of Congress
Face-to-face meetings are an effective way to deliver your message. Here are some points to consider when arranging a meeting either in Washington, D.C. or in your home district.
- Plan your visit carefully, know your message points;
- Call, then write for an appointment;
- Arrive early and expect to wait a few minutes before the meeting;
- Bring materials (brochures, pamphlets, graphs) to leave behind;
- Make a connection: brother-in-law worked on your campaign, our university’s physics department is the largest in the state, our work could help find a cure for;
- Be responsive, offer to follow up after the meeting with more specific information about questions the Member of Congress has.
The U.S. Capitol Switchboard phone is (202) 224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Member’s office. Remember, members of Congress usually do not answer their own telephones, ask to speak with the Congressional staffer who handles the issue (biomedical research, federal funding, NSF) about which you are calling.
- Identify yourself
- Identify your issue (staffers often handle multiple issues that are unrelated, such as international affairs and health care)
- Identify the legislation; S. 123 or H.R. 123
- Explain why you support or oppose stated legislation
- Ask to leave a message for your Representative
- Ask for a written response to your call
The letter is the most popular choice of communication with Congressional offices. When you write a letter, here are some suggestions that will make the process a little easier.
- State your purpose in the first paragraph. If possible, include the specific piece of legislation (House bill: H.R. ___ or Senate bill: S.___);
- Be polite, concise and provide key information, using example to support your position;
- Address only one issue in each letter, and if possible, keep the letter one page.
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510
When writing to the Speaker of the House or to the Chair of a Committee, it is proper to address each as:
Dear Mr. Speaker:
Dear Mr. Chairman Or Madam Chairwoman
The same guidelines apply as writing a letter to Congress. To find your Representatives use: