How Senate Retirements Could Affect Science
September 30, 2016 | Scientific American
How will an exodus of science advocates impact the next Congress? Nora Connors, PHI's deputy director of public policy talks to Scientific American.
Senators commonly engage in disease-specific advocacy, says Nora Connors, the deputy director of public policy of the Public Health Institute, who previously advised Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Though targeting specific diseases is important, Connors says politicians need to think about health more holistically and address socioeconomic risk factors as well as diseases themselves.
Retiring senators can have a particularly large impact on scientific policies and funding because even if their successors care just as much about the same issues, they’ll have to climb the seniority ranks before they can head senatorial committees and wield the accompanying influence.
So what do science advocates want from senators? Among other issues, climate change is top of mind for Holt, Lubell and Connors. Here’s how this year’s retiring senators scored on climate change and other issues: Barbara Boxer (D-CA): Connors praises Boxer for supporting funding for Planned Parenthood and research on teen pregnancy. And as the ranking member for the Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer paid special attention to climate change.