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Government Affairs Program CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ALERT


Action Needed Right Now In Final Blitz for Science Funding Bills

(Posted 9-11-00)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: The science community is making a final push to boost funding for research and development (R&D) in the fiscal year (FY) 2001 appropriations process.  Constituent letters from scientists, copies of op-ed pieces, articles, and ads on R&D will be bundled together and delivered to the House and Senate leadership as well as officials at the White House later this week.  Below is information on the current situation and a sample letter that you can use as a template.  Please send a letter today and e-mail or fax us a copy to include in the bundle! Letters will be most valuable if sent by Wednesday, September 13th. If you have already written a letter on this issue, please send us a copy of that too.

************

September marks the beginning of the end of the appropriations process.  With less than three weeks to go before the end of the current fiscal year, none of the major bills that fund civilian R&D have passed the Congress. The House and Senate will meet as early as this week to conference on the Interior bill -- home to the U.S. Geological Survey, land management agencies, and Department of Energy (DOE) fossil energy programs -- and the Senate will act soon on the VA/HUD/Independent Agencies bill, funding the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bills funding DOE basic research programs and NOAA are also still in play.

Despite the growing budget surplus, the allocations for these programs are all well below the President's request. For example, the House provided a 3.8 percent increase for the National Science Foundation, well below the 17.3 percent increase in the budget request. But all indications suggest that additional funds will be made available in the coming weeks as Republican leaders in Congress work to find a compromise with the president. Members of Congress are eager to get home and campaign -- each day they are in Washington is another day that their opponent is home alone with their constituents! As additional funds become available, it is imperative that R&D investments are part of the mix.

Now is the time to advocate for the importance of science research to your senators and representative. Because there is strength in numbers, AGI is working with a broad coalition of other science, mathematics, engineering, and technology groups to make the case for R&D investment.  These groups are calling on individuals to write to their congressional delegation highlighting the importance of R&D not only for universities and industry, but also for society and the economy.

To participate in the letter campaign:

1. Please write a brief letter to your senators and representative. A sample letter is provided below as a template. Feel free to cite specific programs or agencies and to use examples of the value of investment in the geosciences. A roundup on the current status of geoscience-related appropriations is located at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/appropsfy2001.html.

2. Address the letters to your senators and representative.  For contact information or if you need help identifying your congressional delegation, visit the House http://www.house.gov/writerep/ or Senate http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index.cfm websites. Although handwritten letters still have the most impact, time is of the essence so e-mail is acceptable.

3. Mail the originals to your congressional delegation.

4. Fax or e-mail a copy to AGI at Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502; fax 703-379-7563; email govt@agiweb.org. For maximum impact, please send us a copy by this Wednesday, September 13th.

Many thanks for taking the time to be an active citizen-scientist!

How to Address the Letter to Your Congressional Delegation

To a Senator:

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington DC  20510

Dear Senator (last name):

To a Representative:

The Honorable (full name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington DC  20515

Dear Representative (last name):

Sample Letter to Support Science Funding

I am writing to request that you support a strong, balanced investment in science in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 appropriations bills. Past investments in science are responsible for as much as half of our current economic growth. Without adequate support for research today, we cannot expect to enjoy budget surpluses in the future. Please join your colleagues in the bipartisan effort to increase allocations for the Interior, VA/HUD, Energy & Water, and Commerce appropriations bills so that we can make adequate investments in science programs and agencies.

Federal investment in the geosciences generates new knowledge about our home planet, helping us to responsibly develop our nation's resources, better protect the environment, and reduce our vulnerability to natural hazards. This investment also helps to train the next generation of scientists and to provide all citizens with a better understanding of their world.

[Specific agency examples:
Fundamental research supported by the National Science Foundation has fueled our strong economy and contributed to improvements in our health, safety, and quality of life. Please support the foundation's FY 2001 request, including the exciting new Earthscope initiative, which will take advantage of new technology to systematically survey the structure of the Earth's crust beneath North America.
OR
The central mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to provide reliable, objective earth science data and analysis from a national perspective. The USGS is widely recognized for providing unbiased data to better manage the nation's resources. In order to offset previous declines, the USGS has requested a significant increase in FY 2001. Please support the increase so that this agency can fulfill its important mission.]

Thank you for your consideration of my request. If you would like additional information on geoscience programs and their impact on this district/state, I would be happy to be of assistance.


Alert prepared by Margaret Baker and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: American Institute of Biological Sciences, Council of Scientific Society Presidents, and materials prepared for SET Congressional Visits Day.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted September 11, 2000


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