Scientists Take to Capitol Hill for CVD

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Publication date: 
13 May 2010

Over 270 scientists, engineers, and educators convened on Capitol Hill for the 15th Annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on April 28 and 29.

CVD participants come from across the US to Washington, DC each year to emphasize the importance of consistent research and development (R&D) investments in science and technology (S&T), urge further investments in R&D and science education, and to thank Members of Congress for landmark legislation like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

On the first day, CVD participants are given a lesson in Government 101—learning how the appropriations cycle works, how to speak with Members of Congress and their staff, and how to stay involved in the policy process when they return home.

This year, Representatives David Wu (D-OR) and Ralph Hall (R-TX) received the George E. Brown Jr. Science-Engineering-Technology Leadership Award at a reception put on by CVD organizers which highlighted 2010 as the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser. That anniversary was later recognized by H. Res. 1310 which passed the House on May 4.

The second day of CVD began with a breakfast reception at which retiring Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), himself a previous Brown Jr. Award recipient, thanked CVD participants for educating his colleagues about the importance of investments in S&T R&D. Afterwards, CVD volunteers dispersed to their respective Representatives’ and Senators’ offices to represent their professional community.

CVD participants are usually divided into groups by state. These groups will travel together between House office buildings and across the Capitol to Senate offices. Meetings generally follow a simple 15-minute format wherein CVD participants introduce themselves, discuss their work, deliver prepared talking points, and thank the staff for their support of S&T R&D. Participants frequently meet with Legislative Assistants—staff who handle multiple subject areas, like science issues, and provide policy advice to their Member. Some CVD groups will have the opportunity to meet with their Representatives and Senators.

Physics was particularly well represented with participation from organizations like AVS: The Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing; the American Astronomical Society (AAS); the American Geophysical Union (AGU); the American Physical Society (APS); and the Optical Society of America (OSA).

A record number of AAS and AGU members—16 and 29 respectively—traveled to Capitol Hill this year. Thirty-six physicists from APS, representing 19 states made 85 visits to offices. Likewise, 22 OSA members visited more than 30 offices.

CVD occurs in spring each year. Further information about this year’s CVD can be found here.