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Former House Speaker Tip O'Neill often used the phrase: “All politics is local.” According to Anne Marcantognini, deputy chief of staff for the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, that is a saying that American scientists should take to heart.

Meeting recently with AGU's Committee on Public Affairs (COPA), Marcantognini emphasized the central role that scientists must play in stating the case for federal spending on research. She reminded COPA members that the effort to balance the federal budget by 2002 has brought almost about every federal program under intense scrutiny. And while support for basic research remains an important part of the initiatives of the House Science Committee, every dollar spent these days must be fully justified.