U.S. Rep. David Price, whose congressional district includes the NIEHS campus, visited the institute Dec. 14 for a town-hall style meeting with an extended question and answer session. Interested staff packed the room to capacity, and more tuned in via webcast.
NIEHS and National Toxicology Program (NTP) Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., welcomed Price to the institute. “We are very honored to have Rep. Price here again,” she said. “He’s been here for many celebrations and events, including [earlier] town hall meetings.”
Speaking two days before expiration of the continuing resolution that had kept the government operating since Dec. 11, Price tackled the issue of budget first. Referring to the months that had passed without a final budget deal, he said, “I resist the notion that this is the new normal.” His optimism shone through many of the perspectives he shared at the meeting.
Vaccines, climate, and bipartisanship
Price began the question and answer time by opening the field to all topics. “Anything you want to talk about, I’m game,” he said. NIEHS staff asked questions on health-related topics such as vaccines, gun violence, and climate change, as well as issues ranging well beyond research and science, including education, voting rights, and the fate of bipartisanship.
Price addressed the topic of congressional cooperation with eloquence, referring to his work on the House Democracy Partnership, a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress who provide parliamentary support in young democracies around the world.
“We’re working in places like Indonesia and Kenya. It’s very important whether they make it as parliamentary democracies, and there’s not a hint of partisanship in that,” he said. “The chairman and I differ a great deal on foreign policy issues, but that doesn’t enter into the way we run this parliamentary support project.”
Price then shared an observation that could be taken as advice for members of Congress and, indeed, for society at large. “I have choices about how I conduct myself from day to day, and the extent to which I reach out and attempt to be part of the solution instead of exacerbating the problem,” he said.