EDITORIAL

Out of sight, out of mind

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Science  14 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6211, pp. 791
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2692

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Summary

The 2014 mid-term elections are over, and at least 62 new members of the U.S. Congress will be taking office on 3 January 2015. Many will be accompanied by new staff, not all of them familiar with science and science policy. Compounding the ambiguity that always comes with new legislators is that the leadership of the Senate has changed from Democratic to Republican. It is as yet unknown where the new leaders and committee chairs will stand on science policy issues, but so far, science has not been declared among the priorities put forward by either party. All of this is taking place just as many of science's long-time legislative champions are retiring. Overall research and development spending has already fallen 16% in inflation-adjusted dollars from fiscal year (FY) 2010 to the FY 2015 budget request. The federal government's investment in science and technology now stands at roughly 0.78% of the economy, the lowest point in 50 years. This is the right time for scientists to introduce themselves to their new legislators, congratulate them on their election, offer their services if needed on policy matters that would benefit from science input, and emphasize the importance of science to the country.