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BPD Update Online, Spring 2001
National Center for Social Work Research Act Gains Attention in 107th Congress

Susan Hoechstetter
ANSWER Legislative Representative

By the end of March, supporters in Congress as well as social work educators, researchers, and practitioners had substantially increased the positive visibility of the National Center for Social Work Research Act (NCSWRA) (S. 70/HR 663). Congressmen Asa Hutchinson (R.-AR) testified in behalf of the legislation before the House Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee on March 27. The two bills increased their list of co-sponsors to 33. And social workers put the pressure on their congressional delegations through numerous meetings and hundreds of letters.

The legislation was introduced early in the 107th Congress, demonstrating the strong interest of its congressional supporters in expanding social work research. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D.-HI) introduced S. 70 in the United States Senate on January 22nd, 2001. Congressmen Hutchinson and Ciro D. Rodriguez (D.-TX) led a bipartisan group of co-sponsors who introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives on February 14.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Among the 33 co-sponsors (see list of co-sponsors below) are members of both the House and Senate committees.

The House bill includes an annual authorization level of $30 million for the National Center while the Senate bill is silent on funding levels (authorization levels set a spending ceiling but do not actually make funds available. That is done in the appropriations process.) Apart from the authorization level, the Senate and House bills are substantively the same.

Congressional Outlook

Early introduction of the National Center bills, well-placed bipartisan co-sponsors, and an activated social work network have helped to provide opportunities to move the legislation in the 107th Congress. In the House, Congressman Fred Upton (R.-MI) who is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee is seeking to place the legislation on the agenda of that Subcommittee. And, should HR 663 and S 70 pass Congress, Representative Hutchinson has already laid the groundwork for funding the National Center by speaking to the appropriate appropriations subcommittee.

Bipartisan support in the Senate continues to be absent with only Democrats currently cosponsoring S. 70. However, social workers are making progress, with several Republican senators apparently on the verge of supporting the legislation. And Sen. Jim Jeffords (R.-VT), Chairman of the key Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will meet again in May with Vermont educators and ANSWER's legislative Representative to discuss the Senate bill.

It will, however, require significant effort to obtain passage of the legislation as the bills would create a new federal program. Social workers must continue to educate their congressional delegations about the diversity of social work practice and the importance of social work research in increasing effective prevention and treatment practices. Finally, Members of Congress have to hear from their constituents that the National Center would supply them with outcome information on a regular basis that they can use to develop policies to address social problems.

Social Workers Taking Action

The National Center legislation has moved as far as it has in Congress because social workers have contacted their congressional delegations asking for support, according to congressional staff. The member organizations of ANSWER are seeking to use further social work action to help obtain final passage of the legislation. ANSWER, the Action Network for Social Work Education & Research is a coalition of the: Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors, Council on Social Work Education, Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education, National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, National Association of Social Workers, and Society for Social Work and Research

The ANSWER Steering Committee, chaired by Jack Sellers, BPD Representative, met in Washington, D.C. at NASW on March 15 and 16 and spent a day on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress and their staffs in behalf of the National Center proposals. At CSWE's Annual Program Meeting (APM) in Dallas in March, close to 400 individualized and signed letters were sent from social work constituents to their members of Congress with the help of a computerized congressional letter writing program sponsored by ANSWER and CSWE. BPD provided materials on the National Center at the conference, including buttons urging support, at their booth. And, NADD at its meeting during APM committed funding for a breakfast on Capitol Hill to brief congressional staff.

ANSWER urges social workers to continue to contact their congressional delegations in support of the National Center legislation. Although all members of Congress can be helpful in moving the legislation, key targets for support at this time include:

1. All Republican Senators

2. Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to Subcommittee:
Bill Frist (R-TN), Chairman; Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Ranking Member; Judd Gregg (R-NH); Tom Harkin (D-IA);
Mike Enzi (R-WY); Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD); Tim Hutchinson (R-AR); Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Pat Roberts (R-KS);
Jack Reed (D-RI); Susan M. Collins (R-ME); John Edwards (D-NC); Jeff Sessions (R-AL); Hillary Clinton (D-NY);

3. Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce's Health Subcommittee who are not co-sponsors:
Michael Bilirakis, Florida, Chairman; Joe Barton, Texas; Nathan Deal, Georgia; Richard Burr, North Carolina; Ed Whitfield, Kentucky; Greg Ganske, Iowa; Charlie Norwood, Georgia; Barbara Cubin, Wyoming; Heather Wilson, New Mexico; John B. Shadegg, Arizona; Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, Mississippi; Ed Bryant, Tennessee; Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Maryland; Steve Buyer, Indiana; Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania; W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, Louisiana (Ex Officio)

*House and Senate Co-sponsors (as of 2/30/01)
House of Representatives: Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D.-HI), Rep. Ken Bentsen (D.-TX), Rep. David E. Bonior (D.-MI), Rep. Julia Carson (D.-IN) Rep. Donna M.Christensen (Del-VI), Rep. James E. Clyburn (D.-SC), Rep. Robert E. (Bud) Cramer (D.-AL), Jr., Rep. Martin Frost (D.-TX), Rep. Kay Granger (R.-TX), Rep. Gene Green (D.-TX), Rep. Jim Greenwood (R.-PA), Rep. Earl Hillard (D.-AL) Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R.-AR), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D.-TX), Rep. Sue Kelly (R.-NY), Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D.-MI), Rep. Jim Leach (R.-IA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D.-NY), Rep. Patsy T. Mink (D.-HI), Rep. Connie Morella (R.-MD), Rep. Lynn Rivers (D.-MI), Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D.-TX), Rep. Edolphus Towns (D.-NY), Rep. Fred Upton (R.-MI), Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D.-NY), Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-CA). Senate: Sen. John Breaux (D.-LA) for a, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D.-HI), Sen. Mary Landrieu (D.-LA), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D.-MI).

Note: The following is additional information from the most recent legislative alert. Feel free to include any of it --
Action... Action... Action...

1) Ask your Senators and Representative to co-sponsor S 70/HR 663 and to help gain its passage this year (see message below). For those already co-sponsoring the legislation, thank them and ask for their help with other members (see second message). You may wish to add local examples of the benefits or need for social work research or information from CSWE's web site to your messages.

Message for Senators and Representatives:

"As your constituent and a concerned social worker [can insert your school or other workplace here] I am asking you to review and co-sponsor S 70/HR 663, the National Center for Social Work Research Act. Social Workers are on the front lines in our state providing services every day to help people cope with youth violence, serious health and mental-health conditions, child abuse and neglect, and problems related to aging. A National Center for Social Work Research would build upon the daily experience gained by social workers, and make the information available to policymakers like yourself who wish to make effective and helpful legislative decisions. Information from the National Center would also be used by service providers seeking to do the best job possible." Optional: "I will contact your office to schedule an appointment with you in the near future."

Message for Senators and Representatives Cosponsoring the Legislation (see list of co-sponsors below):

"Thank you very much for your support for S 70/HR 663, the National Center for Social Work Research Act. As your constituent and a concerned social worker [can insert your school or other workplace here], I would appreciate your helping to move the legislation successfully through Congress in any way that you can." Optional: "I will contact your office to schedule an appointment with you in the near future."

Letters can be addressed to:

The Honorable Senator (Representative) _________________
United States Senate (United States House of Representatives)
Washington, DC 20510 (20515)

2) For updates on the legislation and for materials, including the Social Work Research Act Information Sheet, please go to CSWE's website, www.cswe.org and click on National Center for Social Work Research Act.

3) Schedule appointments with your Senators and Representative when they are at home for Spring recess (April 7-22) or, if you can, for when they are in Washington. The telephone number of the Capitol switchboard is 202/225-3121.

4) If you are an educator, and would like to engage students in promoting the legislation, please share this material and the material on CSWE's website with them.

5) Please take five minutes to email the results of your congressional contacts to Susan Hoechstetter, ANSWER's Legislative Representative, at shosh4prog@aol.com .

6) Build and strengthen your relationships with members of your congressional delegation. Follow-up on your contacts by calling and/or visiting them or their staffs as much as possible. All Senators and Representatives have at least hundreds of thousands of constituents, and most Senators have millions -- the only way to be heard is to keep up the communication.

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