Naperville Sun: Protesters opposing confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh rally in downtown Naperville

By Erin Hegarty

Armed with signs bearing messages like “Kava nope,” “Believe women” and “The world is watching,” about 100 people gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Naperville to protest the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The FBI this week completed an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh following last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of attempting to sexually assault when they were in high school. The Senate may vote Friday on his nomination.

Naperville resident Karen Peck helped organize the event, held at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, as part of a nationwide series of “Stop Kavanuagh” vigils orchestrated by MoveOn, a national group that cites a mission of social justice and political progress. Peck said she was impressed with the number of people, including U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, who attended the event with about a day’s notice.

Foster addressed protesters under Naperville’s Freedom of Speech pavilion.

Something that cannot be ignored are the results of an election, Foster said, as he encouraged people to vote in upcoming November and April elections.

“The only way we can never lose is if the next generation remembers that votes matter and elections matter and bad things happen when good people stay home,” Foster told the crowd.

Following the address, protesters stood on the sidewalk adjacent to Jackson Avenue chanting and clapping as passing motorists honked their horns.

“The Supreme Court should be a nonpartisan, deliberative, check and balance body. Brett Kavanaugh threatens that,” said Dianne McGuire with Indivisible Naperville. “The lying he has done under oath about his life in general should disqualify him instantly.”

Naperville resident Neal Sternecky held an orange triangular sign with “Devil’s Triangle” written in the middle and the faces of President Donald Trump, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kavanaugh in each of the corners.

“It seemed all too fitting, and sadly all branches of government are represented (in the sign),” Sternecky said. “I think it’s really unbelievable that Kavanaugh has not withdrawn yet.”

Batavia resident Cherie Jones Das said it was important she attend Wednesday’s protest to ensure her voice and those of others are heard.

“I know people who have had things like (sexual assault) happen to them. We need to stand up,” Jones Das said. “Kavanaugh should not be a justice on our Supreme Court.”

Wednesday marked the first time Hinsdale resident Tony DeLorenzo participated in a protest.

“I’m out here because of fear. I’m fearful for our democracy,” DeLorenzo said. “When credible sexual assault accusations started to come out, it was obvious this nomination should be shot down.”

Aurora resident Tania Taverson stood on the sidewalk adjacent to Jackson Avenue with a sign that read “Believe women.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-nvs-kavanaugh-protest-naperville-foster-st-1005-story.html

Daily Herald: 11th District race: Foster considers Medicare option at lower ages, Stella says it should rise

By Katlyn Smith

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster wants to give serious consideration to a Medicare buy-in for people in their 50s, but doesn’t endorse a “Medicare for All” plan that has been gaining favor with some Democrats.

His Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 election, Dr. Nick Stella, a Darien cardiologist, has called for gradually raising the eligibility age for Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors 65 and older.

The 11th Congressional District candidates offer starkly different views on the future of Medicare as government projections released in June show the benefit program faces insolvency in 2026.

“Medicare needs to be salvaged,” said Stella, who in March won his second attempt at the GOP nomination to try to unseat Foster. “It is very, very unpopular with politicians to talk about that, to talk about the fact that if we don’t do anything, we are going to run out of money.”

Stella wants to increase the age when people become eligible for Medicare given that life expectancies have risen since the program was enacted more than 50 years ago.

“And yet we haven’t seen any significant increase in the age of eligibility of Medicare, so that’s something that needs to slowly be pushed back,” Stella said in a recent interview with the Daily Herald editorial board.

Raising the eligibility age “has to be done in a humane manner,” Stella said.

“Someone in their 30s, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that maybe now they need to look at a two- or three- or a four-year extension to what the eligibility is,” Stella said. ” … You cannot take someone in their 60s and say, ‘Oh, suddenly you’ve got a two-year extension, and you’re going to have to work another two years before you’re eligible for that.'”

Foster, a Naperville Democrat seeking his fourth term representing the 11th District, equated pushing back the eligibility age to cutting Medicare, though Stella disagreed.

“Unlike my opponent, I do not believe in cutting Medicare or raising the eligibility age, which amounts to a complete cut for everyone who you exclude from Medicare eligibility,” said Foster, a former particle physicist. “In fact, I think we should move in the opposite way.”

Foster said proposals to allow people in their 50s to buy into Medicare “should be looked at very hard.” In a follow-up statement, Foster said lawmakers should task the Congressional Budget Office and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service with estimating the costs of Medicare buy-in premiums to “determine if this is a promising, realistic option.”

“One of the most critical health care challenges in this country are faced by middle-aged people who are struggling with high medical costs as they age but before they are old enough to qualify for Medicare,” Foster said in the statement. “A promising way to meet this need is to allow people aged 55-64 to buy into Medicare at cost — meaning the premiums would be adjusted to cover the actuarial value of the Medicare coverage for people in that age group. This would effectively be a ‘public option’ for people in that age range, and would not cost taxpayers any money.

“I previously supported a public option for all Americans when I voted for the House version of the Affordable Care Act. I believe this would be a useful step towards a public option for all Americans.”

How would Foster shore up the program’s future?

“One way that we can do that is to do what I supported in the past, which is to make the cap on earnings — right now you tax earnings only to about $125,000 and then it stops,” he said in the editorial board interview. “I believe that once you get above, say $250,000, above the middle class, that we should resume taxing those at roughly the same rates. That would largely solve the solvency problem.”

Foster doesn’t back “Medicare for All” legislation, a model championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to have a government-run system cover all Americans.

“It has an unknown cost, and I think it has not looked honestly at what the limits have to be for people who present themselves to our system with no assets and no insurance,” he said.

Finding a cure for chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes would help reduce the strain on Medicare funding, Foster said.

“There are in fact drugs fairly far along the pipeline that will deal effectively and not too expensively with diabetes, and if we could come up with a low-cost cure for diabetes, that alone would solve the long-term stress on health care spending in our country,” he said. “Similarly, roughly a third of our Medicare spending goes toward diabetes, and we’re within sight in the next 20 years of another third going toward Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is a tougher nut to crack, but I think that our government has been underinvesting in the research that will lead to cures for both of these. It will pay off many times over.”

The 11th District spans parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties, including Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge and Joliet.

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20181004/11th-district-race-foster-considers-medicare-option-at-lower-ages-stella-says-it-should-rise

Naperville Sun: Congressional candidates square off at Aurora forum

By Suzanne Baker

It was a small showing Tuesday for the 11th District Congressional candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County at Aurora University where Republican challenger Nick Stella squared off against incumbent Democrat Bill Foster.

Patricia Lackman of the League of Women Voters, who served as moderator at the forum, said she was “saddened and disappointed” only 20 members of the public showed up for the forum.

“That’s kind of a sad state of affairs,” Lackman said.

She said as a nonpartisan organization, the league strives to develop informed voters.

By attending the forum, “it says you believe in democracy and want to have your voice heard,” Lackman told the audience.

For an hour, the candidates went back and forth on topics suggested by members of the audience. Their responses, for the most part, fell along party lines.

The 11th District stretches from Aurora to Burr Ridge and extends south into Joliet and includes portions of Naperville.

The two were asked how they would eliminate any debt created by the GOP tax bill that is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade.

“The Republican tax plan is a mistake,” Foster said, adding that the wealthy need to pay their fair share of taxes.

Stella disagreed, saying people should look at the good things that have come as a result of the tax bill, which has “helped to put money back in the pockets of everyday working-class Americans.”

Stella said the hope is to pay off the debt by growing the economy and increasing tax revenue.

On the issue of immigration, Foster said it was tragic that Congress hasn’t approved a comprehensive immigration reform measure, saying he is concerned about “the vilification of immigrants and separation of families and the long list of immigration outrages that are in this country today.”

Stella suggested the children who were brought to America illegally by their parents should not be given preferential treatment. However, he said as long as they’ve lived a “good life and not broken laws and not committed felonies, I think we can think about a pathway to citizenship.”

However, he said they should not be put above people who’ve immigrated to the United States legally.

Regarding having a question on the 2020 U.S. Census requiring people to check a box if they are a citizen or not, Stella said he doesn’t feel strongly either way.

Stella said he understands some question whether people will fill out the census if they are in the United States illegally because they are worried about being deported.

“I don’t know that I agree with those statements,” he added.

Foster said statistics show a citizenship question will result in a reduction in the number of people counted. He said the U.S. Constitution says you should count people, not citizens.

He said he has talked to the mayors of Aurora, Bolingbrook and Joliet about the potential loss of federal funds if the local population is undercounted.

“You’re talking about millions of dollars being removed from Illinois’ 11th District,” Foster said.

On the issue of Medicare, Stella said Congress has been afraid to make the important decisions.

“I think that Medicare has been a promise we’ve made to our senior citizens for an awful long time now, and unfortunately the likelihood we can keep that promise decreases with each and every day,” he said.

“I think we need to look at other ways to help our seniors. We need to expand coverage,” but do it in a “fiscally prudent manner,” Stella said.

Foster said Medicare needs to be expanded and strengthened and more money should be put into diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease research.

When it comes to infrastructure, both said they’ll push to bring more federal dollars to the area for projects.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-nvs-foster-stella-debate-st-0920-story.html

Foster Endorsed by IFT

Naperville, IL — Today, the Bill Foster campaign  announced the endorsement of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. The IFT has more than 103,000 teachers, educational workers, university and community college faculty and staff, and state employees throughout Illinois.

“The future of this great country depends on our students getting a quality education,” said Bill Foster. “Members of IFT spend every single day working hard to give our children the quality education they deserve and need to thrive. At a time when education budgets and organized labor are under constant attack, I will keep  fighting for strong schools and for strong teachers. I’m proud to receive the endorsement of this great organization.”

Foster Endorsed by IL AFL-CIO

Naperville, IL – Today, Bill Foster announced that he received the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO for the 2018 General Election. The Illinois AFL-CIO represents 1,500 local unions and nearly 900,000 union members across the state of Illinois.

“I am proud to accept the endorsement of the Illinois AFL-CIO. Organized labor has been a critical component of our country’s strong economy and a source of opportunities for hardworking Americans. The AFL-CIO works tirelessly to ensure that workers have the power they need to thrive,” Foster said. “We will not be able to stop the destructive acts of President Trump and his Republican allies without organized labor and American workers. I look forward to working side-by-side with organized labor to elect Democrats up and down the ballot and to continue working with them to improve the lives of American workers after November.”

Bill Foster for Congress’s Statement on the Families Belong Together Rally

Naperville, IL – Today, Bill Foster for Congress released the following statement for #FamiliesBelongTogether rally in Joliet and around the country.

“President Trump, his administration, and his Congressional allies have shown their true colors. Their vicious and heartless actions over the past few weeks have demonstrated their priorities. It is clear, now more than ever, that this President and his allies care more about scoring political points than about the safety of other human beings. From separating families at the border, to caging children like animals, to the complete unwillingness to follow the rule of law and reunite families who are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children, this President, this administration, and this Congress have demonstrated exactly the type of people they are.

The actions taken by this administration over the past few weeks do not represent who we are and what we are capable of as a country. We are a welcoming country; we are a country of opportunity. But above all, we are a country that cares about the well-being of other human beings.

We have a lot of work to do as a country. We need to fix our broken immigration system with comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. We need to support those in need, and treat people, no matter their nationally, heritage, or background, with the respect and care that human beings deserve. But first we need to reunite these families, because families belong together.”

Marketplace: Scientists exit the warm embrace of research for politics

By Jed Kim

On a recent Friday, Jess Phoenix was scheduled to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the home game of the minor league Lancaster JetHawks. In the hours before the game, however, she was canvassing streets in the Southern California district she hopes to win in the upcoming midterm election.

Her pitch to potential voters highlighted her uniqueness as a candidate.

“I’m a volcano scientist, actually,” Phoenix told one homeowner. “I study active volcanoes, run a nonprofit that does environmental science research, and I just was pretty upset about what they’re doing to science funding and education funding. So, yeah, I thought, ‘Let’s bring evidence and facts into government.’”

If she were elected, she’d be a rarity on the Hill. Among the current Congress, more than 200 people hold law degrees. The hard sciences are much less represented. One representative, Bill Foster (D-Ill.), holds a Ph.D. in physics.

Starting Tuesday, candidates for the midterm elections are being decided in primaries around the country. A lot of the people running this year are political newcomers from the science community. That’s because many fear that the current political powers-that-be are discounting science in their policy making. These people are running to re-prioritize facts in government. But running a lab, and running a campaign are two very different things.

Phoenix is running for the seat currently held by Republican Representative Steve Knight in the 25th District. She feels his voting record has been too in step with President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“We need to have people in office who not only believe that climate change is real, but also understand the steps we need to take to adapt and adjust our society for the changing climate,” Phoenix said.

A few other science-minded candidates are running for Congress in Southern California. They include a doctor, a stem cell researcher and a former technology adviser to President Barack Obama. They’re all part of a wider push by political organizations to get science-friendly candidates to run in races all around the country.

For those trained in scientific rigor, a political campaign can be very unsettled territory.

“To win my first election was harder than to get my Ph.D., so you have to really want to do this,” said New Jersey state Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.

Zwicker, who has a background in plasma physics, recently won reelection to his seat. He said his first campaign focused on facts, to which he said voters responded.

“They were just so interested to hear about my one and only promise, my platform, which was to use evidence to make decisions,” Zwicker said.

Still, he barely won his first election, edging out his opponent by less than 100 votes. Running is a lot of work. Patrick Madden, who teaches computer science at Binghamton University, briefly threw his hat into the ring for a congressional seat in New York this year.

“You know it’s not going to be fun, but wow, it was, it was way less fun than I ever expected,” Madden said.

Madden hated asking for money, but he was able to raise $25,000 in six weeks. Even so, when a stronger Democratic candidate with a history announced he was running, Madden did the math and dropped out.

“I would like to see more scientists and engineers in Congress, but if I have to get to a million dollars to get past him, that’s not a smart way to spend my time or to set up a fight for him that doesn’t do either of us any good,” Madden said.

Like Madden, Jess Phoenix is running up against serious competition from other Democrats. The primary is about a month away, and two of her opponents have raised a lot more money than she has. As of now, she said this is the only time she’ll run.

That means throwing out the first pitch on Friday night might have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As she took the mound, the wind was blowing straight out to right. She was confident she could get it to the plate, because she’s played competitive fast-pitch softball.

Would she try throwing a curve or zipping something in with heat? She said she was going for something nice and easy, right over the plate.

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/05/07/sustainability/scientists-exit-warm-embrace-research-politics

Gizmodo: Congress’s Only Physicist Explains What’s at Stake for Science This Year

By Dave Levitan

In March, Congress passed a massive spending bill, averting (further) government shutdowns. Though he threw a minor tantrum about it, President Trump signed the bill into law. Among the various things that might have spawned the whining was the complete reversal of the White House budget requests when it came to science. The bill was, to most everyone’s surprise, a victory for science nearly across the board.

The National Institutes of Health, the country’s primary source of biomedical research funding, got an 8 percent bump, to $37 billion; Trump had proposed cutting it by 22 percent. The National Science Foundation received an extra four percent, and the Department of Energy’s science office jumped by 15 percent, among various other victories.

“We’ve had now two rounds of really draconian budget cuts to science proposed by the Trump administration, and we’ve battled back on both them,” said Congressman Bill Foster, Capitol Hill’s lone science PhD, when we spoke recently. But this was no victory lap from Foster. “[Funding levels] are safe for the moment,” he said. “There will be another budget cycle coming up, and Trump’s director of [Office of Management and Budget], Mick Mulvaney… is going to be coming after science with a meat cleaver, every time they give him the opportunity.”

Foster is a physicist, and spent 22 years at Fermilab before running for office. A year ago, I spoke with him in Washington, as he enjoyed a minor celebrity turn at the massive March for Science. This year, we spoke as he prepared to return home to Illinois, where he planned to march with his constituents. His focus on science-related budget items has not wavered, and in spite of the victories on NIH, NSF, and elsewhere, he noted several spots where Democrats did not get what they wanted.

“In some areas like environmental science, even preserving a constant level of funding was a victory,” Foster said. For example, NASA’s earth science program—meaning, essentially, research on climate change—will receive the same amount of money as the previous budget cycle, in spite of a $1.1 billion increase to NASA’s coffers in total. NOAA’s climate research program also was flat funded. Any reasonable human would at this point be in favor of pouring resources into climate change research, so these budgets weren’t so much victories as exasperated sighs. The Trump administration has proposed drastically reducing spending on earth science at both NASA and NOAA, so just keeping the lights on represents substantial pushback from Congress.

On climate more generally, Foster said: “If we were offered a bargain of just maintaining the status quo throughout the remainder of the Trump administration, I think we would take that bargain. We are fighting a defensive action.”

He noted that the regulatory arena is particularly dangerous; Congress seems at least mildly capable of acting as a check when it comes the budget, but conducting meaningful oversight of the Scott Pruitts and Rick Perrys of the government does not seem to be on the majority’s agenda. “What we’re seeing actually is the third branch of our government, the courts, stand up and really do their job to prevent the worst of Trump’s proposals from proceeding.” As a number of recent stories have pointed out, Pruitt’s regulatory zealotry isn’t exactly working smoothly, with all sorts of legal challenges and stays holding up many of his worst ideas.

For Congress’s part, Foster sees some bright spots in very strange places. He has lamented before how his colleagues would acknowledge the need to act on climate change in private but feared a primary challenge too much to vote for any related policy—a situation that the wave of Republican retirements may actually be changing.

This is even true for some of Congress’s most ardent attackers of science. House science committee chairman Lamar Smith, who recently announcedhis retirement, opened a hearing on fusion energy by saying: “[Fusion] would obviously reduce carbon emissions by a significant amount with major implications for climate change…. While we cannot predict when fusion will be a viable part of our energy portfolio, it is clear that this is critical basic science that could benefit future generations.”

This from the man who as recently as last year spoke at the fossil fuel-loving Heartland Institute’s conference of climate-change deniers. “The Democrats on the committee just looked at each other and said ‘Who is this guy, and what alien life form has taken over his brain to make him finally see the light on this,’” Foster said. “It’s remarkable. That is an example of when the political pressure from their base of supporters has been released.”

Aside from the budget, Foster had a few thoughts on Congressional priorities on science, especially given the White House’s inability to confront them with any semblance of nuance or expertise. (We have passed the 15-month with no science advisor to the president, nor any nominee on the horizon.) For example, he thinks it will be up to Congress to push the adoption of medically assisted treatment for those addicted to opioids. These treatments, for which there is now a substantial body of evidenceindicating their efficacy, often don’t come cheap.

“Frankly I think our government owes it to the families who are going through the opioid crisis,” Foster said. “We’re going to have to establish standards for federal funding to recovery centers, that indicate the availability of medically assisted treatment, simply because it is the best arrow in our quiver at this point.”

Foster also has started to bang a new drum, calling for an information technology committee in Congress. This is obviously related to the recent revelations regarding Facebook, but he thinks such dedicated oversight could play a big role in less well-trod areas. For example, the debate over genetics privacy—how to keep your DNA out of anyone else’s hands, essentially—is at a certain level an IT discussion. “One of the real worries is, if someone opts in to have their genetic information collected, what sort of cybersecurity issues are there on that? Because that means there is a big server out there, a big database, open to cyberattack,” Foster said. He added that he doesn’t know of any specific plans in Congress to address genetics privacy, but he has had informal discussions with both Republicans and Democrats on the idea of an IT committee that could at least begin to address such issues, and there is at least preliminary support.

But for most of Foster’s science-oriented ideas, it will take a Democratic swing in the November midterms before things can be set in motion. A Democratic majority in the House could mean increased oversight of the regulatory efforts, potential reorganizations of how Congress addresses science, and maybe even some minor, batting practice-like swings in the direction of climate change mitigation. Part of this change could be a new wave of scientists who are vying to give Foster some company in Congress.

The political action committee known as 314 Action, which helps people with science backgrounds run for office, estimates that about 60 such candidates are competing for federal positions, with another 250 aiming for lower offices. “This year I am marching for science back in Illinois, in the suburbs, where the battle for control of Congress will be fought,” Foster told me. “This is what has to happen. Candidates both with scientific backgrounds and those who are willing to listen to the scientists have to step up and make it part of their campaign.… Science should not be a partisan issue.”

https://gizmodo.com/congress-s-only-physicist-explains-what-s-at-stake-for-1825428151

Science Alert: The Only PhD Scientist in Congress Was Marching For Science This Weekend

By CARLY CASSELLA, SCIENCE AS FACT

It may come as a surprise, but there is at least one person in Congress who has a firm grasp of science: Representative Bill Foster – and you can bet that this weekend, he was marching for science.

As the only PhD scientist in Congress, Foster has been a champion for science over the past year, and in many ways he has been an unsung hero in the March for Science movement.

On the very same day that President Trump was sworn into office, all references to climate change were removed from the White House website. The March for Science movement was created shortly after, and Foster was one of its earliest and most vocal proponents.

Last year, in an op-ed published in The Hill, Foster announced that he would be attending the march – not as a Congressman, but as a concerned citizen.

“The president’s anti-science policies began on the campaign trail when he called climate change a hoax, directly contradicting decades of climate science data and research and instilling a falsehood as fact to millions of Americans,” wrote Foster.

“As president, Mr. Trump has stacked his Cabinet with individuals who have either actively worked to undermine the agencies they now lead or have demonstrated a willingness to wipe out federal funding for science entirely.”

The piece ended with a simple: “See you at the March.”

This year, at the 2018 march, Foster was back. Last week, Foster announced he would once again be marching in another op-ed for The Hill titled, “We still need to march for science.”

The article is a terrifying read, simply because it lays out the extent to which the Trump administration has devalued, silenced, censored and politicized science.

“The Trump administration has moved to censure and politicize science to turn scientific research into a field that only exists to confirm their political truths or – worse yet – completely dismantle our scientific infrastructure altogether,” wrote Foster.

He’s not wrong. In just one year, the Trump administration has proposed massive cuts to science agencieshidden climate change information, promoted climate change conspiracies, left key science advisory positions unfilled, and moved to dismantle important environmental regulations.

And, every step of the way, Foster has been there to condemn the Trump administration’s dismissal of science and evidence-based policy making.

Earlier this year in an interview on C-Span, Foster said he was most afraid by the Trump administration’s “disinterest” in science.

In particular, he cited President Trump’s failure to nominate a chief science advisor to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In last week’s op-ed, Foster brought the issue up once again.

“These developments might sound like nothing more than Washington chatter, but there are serious implications for Americans if we fail to have leadership with the qualifications they need for their positions,” he wrote.

“Each of these positions plays a critical role in our country’s response to national disasters, disease outbreaks and national security crises.”

Still no matter how much Foster tries to stand up for science, the Trump administration is not interested in what one, lone physicist has to say. Although, with more scientists running for office in 2018 than ever before, Foster could soon have some company in Congress.

“We must continue to tell this administration that leaders cannot ignore scientific facts when it is politically convenient for them,” wrote Foster.

“Science is the foundation of a society whose innovation has made this country great and will lead the way to a more prosperous and safer country. That’s why I will join Americans across the country on Saturday to march for science.”

This article was originally published by Science As Fact.

https://www.sciencealert.com/the-only-phd-scientist-in-congress-was-marching-for-science-this-weekend

The Hill: We still need to march for science

BY REP. BILL FOSTER (D-ILL.), OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

Today, thousands of people will once again take to the streets to march for science. For many Americans, science makes us think of test tubes in high school chemistry classes or a cool space documentary on Netflix. But science and logic have impacted our lives in ways that we often do not notice. That’s why as the only PhD physicist in Congress, I have spent my time in Washington fighting back against the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the scientific progress we have made due to decades of sustained federal investment in scientific research and education.

Our country has benefitted from lawmakers and political leaders who took their duty to the American public seriously and were willing to listen to technical experts who understood the facts and the importance of scientific research. First, investment in science greatly contributes to economic growth. Since World War II, science and technology were responsible for over half of the economic growth in the United States. Second, regulations based on scientific research have made American lives healthier and protected our water and air from harmful substances. Third, experts in scientific fields allow our government to prepare for potential future crises in national security and public health.

In the past year, we have seen the Trump administration attack science at each of these levels with proposed cuts to federally funded research, the dismantling of important regulations, and unfilled top-level government positions that require an advanced scientific degree. The Trump administration has moved to censure and politicize science to turn scientific research into a field that only exists to confirm their political truths or – worse yet – completely dismantle our scientific infrastructure altogether.

Many of the positions that require an advanced degree in science are still unfilled. After over a year in office, the president has yet to nominate a top science and technology advisor. The director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy helps to coordinate our country’s research agenda. It is currently held by a political appointee with an advanced degree in political science.

These developments might sound like nothing more than Washington chatter, but there are serious implications for Americans if we fail to have leadership with the qualifications they need for their positions. Each of these positions plays a critical role in our country’s response to national disasters, disease outbreaks and national security crises.

This administration has also gone to great lengths to censor scientific research and findings. Last December, policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were forced to remove words like “evidence-based” and “science-based” from budgetary language. The Environmental Protection Agency has taken great care to remove references to climate change and underplay the human role in global warming. These actions threaten to undo any chance we have to respond to climate change and other long-term problems.

Unfortunately, this administration has forgotten or simply does not care that science has improved the standard of living for millions of Americans and allowed us to confront technical and public health crises. The Environmental Protection Agency has moved to repeal numerous regulations that keep Americans safe, including rules that prohibit emissions from power plants and a rule that extends clean water protections from waterways and streams. These changes have occurred under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, whose tenure at the EPA has been marred by constant stories of corruption and the misuse of taxpayer money.

There is, however, some good news. The Fiscal Year 2018 spending agreement that Congress passed last month is an emphatic rejection of Trump’s proposed deep cuts to science budgets and funding. The National Science Foundation will receive a nearly $300 million increase, and the Department of Energy Office of Science will also receive an increase of $868 million.

We must continue to tell this administration that leaders cannot ignore scientific facts when it is politically convenient for them. Science is the foundation of a society whose innovation has made this country great and will lead the way to a more prosperous and safer country. That’s why I will join Americans across the country on Saturday to march for science.

Congressman Bill Foster represents the 11th District in Illinois. For over twenty years, he worked as a high-energy physicist and particle accelerator designer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest known form of matter.

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/383070-we-still-need-to-march-for-science