Faust Travels to Capitol To Warn Against Sequestration

With only a few days left for Congress to avert sequestration, University President Drew G. Faust will travel to Capitol Hill this week to sound the alarm about across-the-board budget cuts that would likely slash millions of dollars in funding for Harvard researchers.

“What made the trip feasible and timely was the threat of sequester,” said Christine M. Heenan, Harvard’s vice president for public affairs and communications.

Congress has until Friday to reach a deal to avoid sequestration, automatic cuts to the budgets of both defense and non-defense federal agencies. Without such a deal, Harvard’s researchers, who received a total of over $650 million in fiscal year 2012 from the federal government, will be forced to find ways to offset the drastic cuts to their sponsored revenue.

Starting on Wednesday morning, Faust will meet with Congressional leaders and freshman representatives from both parties. She will also lobby members of the Obama administration, including military officials.

In these conversations, Faust will warn leaders of the harmful effects that she believes research funding cuts have on the nation’s intellectual and innovative vitality, which she has said in the past is closely linked with the health of the economy.

Sequestration threatens to trigger “a 10-year reset of American priorities,” said Kevin Casey, Harvard’s associate vice president for public affairs and communications.

Casey said that in addition to arguing against sequestration, Faust will push for a “growth agenda to help innovate our way out of the deficit.”

“Research universities might be providing a resource that is part of the solution,” said Casey, who is Harvard’s chief lobbyist. “We like to be a resource to members across both sides of the aisle.”

Faust’s research advocacy trip to the Capitol this week will be far from her first. In 2008, after five years of stagnant research funding from government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Faust testified on the Senate floor against reduced federal funding for academic research.

Faust’s previous visits to D.C. have also included conversations with business leaders and executives from other universities intended to “broaden our work in coalitions,” according to Casey.

In addition to her talks with politicians this week, Faust will attend an event at the Library of Congress, an announcement of a Civil War project by the American Repertory Theater and the National Theatre, and a lecture and question-and-answer session at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

—Staff writer Nikita Kansra can be reached at nikitakansra@college.harvard.edu. You can follow her on Twitter @NikitaKansra.

—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at sweinstock@college.harvard.edu. You can follow him on Twitter @syweinstock.

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