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PAA Members Take the Hill by Storm

By PAA Web posted 04-17-2018 00:00


PAA members meet with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in March 2018. Pictured L-R, Dr. Grace Kao (Yale U.), Rep. Jayapal, Dr. Kyle Crowder (U. of Washington) and Deputy Director of Government Affairs Suzanne Stokes ViethThe catchword “Storm-y” dominated both the news cycle and the local weather forecast in Washington, DC in late March, but for PAA advocates, it signaled their tireless determination to educate as many key congressional offices as possible during the 2018 PAA Advocacy Days.

On March 19 and 20, 2018, twelve PAA members from nearly every region of the US converged in Washington to participate in face-to-face meetings with their elected representatives and congressional staff, to educate them about population sciences—and the importance of funding for federal grant-making and statistical agencies that directly and indirectly support the field. All told, participants collectively participated in 51 Capitol Hill meetings, which is a new record for a PAA fly-in. The meetings were especially timely, given that the final negotiations for the FY 2018 omnibus spending were wrapping up, and a decision from Commerce Secretary Ross on the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census was pending.

While the emphasis at each meeting varied somewhat, depending on the relevance of the lawmaker’s committee assignments, agenda items focused on discussing the real-world, tangible findings that population research has produced on a range of issues, and how federal funding directly supports research and training through NIH and NSF, and data collection and dissemination—through the Census Bureau and other key agencies—that is crucial to population scientists. Read more about PAA’s specific funding requests for the Fiscal 2019 funding cycle here.

PAA is grateful to the PAA Members who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in Hill meetings, and we strive to make it a worthwhile experience for them as well. As 2018 participant Dr. Stephanie Bohon (U. of Tennessee-Knoxville) observed, “Being on the Hill for Advocacy Days and interacting with [congressional staff] gave me much greater optimism… Staffers on both sides of the aisle seemed genuinely concerned about the issues we brought to them.” Dr. Lynne Cossman (West Virginia U.) added, “Advocacy Days shows me how important demographic research is for federal policies and planning. In an era where the relevancy of higher education is being questioned, there is no doubt that demography is relevant—and highlighting that to legislators is empowering too.”