ALERT: Request NSF Support Tomorrow

(Posted 1-11-07)


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

IN A NUTSHELL: The 109th Congress did not complete the fiscal year 2007 (FY 2007) budget. To ensure government functions, Congress passed a continuing resolution until February 15, 2007. The 110th Congress has decided to extend the CR for the full year with limited adjustments. Congressmen Vernon Ehlers, Bart Gordon and Rush Holt are circulating a Dear Colleague Letter, asking for an almost 8% budget increase for NSF as a limited adjustment to the new CR. Such Dear Colleague Letters are effective if they are signed by many members.

Please call or fax your representative as soon as possible and ask your representative to sign onto the Ehlers-Gordon-Holt Dear Colleague Letter to support a $6 billion budget for NSF in the continuing resolution. Be sure to mention that the deadline for signing on is Friday, January 12th. Time is of the essence, please call or fax a short note today.

The 109th Congress returned from the mid-term election recess and was unable to complete any of the unfinished appropriation bills. Before turning out the lights in December 2006, the 109th Congress did pass another continuing resolution (CR) through February 15, 2007. The CR means that all of the other federal agencies will be funded at the lowest funding level of three options, the fiscal year 2006 budget, the House approved FY 2007 budget or the Senate committee approved FY 2007 budget.

The 110th Congress, which started their first session on January 4, 2007, has indicated that they plan to extend the CR for the full year, rather than trying to work out a new budget for the 9 unfinished bills. This means that NSF has started FY 2007 without the potential budget increases proposed in appropriations work in 2006.

These proposed increases will be lost if the CR is extended for a full year. The 110th Congress has indicated that it might consider "limited adjustments" to some appropriations when they bring forward a new CR that will be extended until September 30, 2007.

If the CR is extended for a full year without any adjustments, NSF would see a reduction in funding of about $439 million and this reduction would translate into a loss of about 800 new research grants for FY 2007.

The Ehlers-Gordon-Holt Dear Colleague Letter requests an adjustment for NSF in the next CR. The adjustment would give NSF the almost 8% increase proposed in appropriations work in 2006 and raise the total NSF budget to about $6 billion.

Below is a copy of the Ehlers-Gordon-Holt Dear Colleague Letter that is being circulated.

*********************DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER********************
The complete text of this letter follows:

The Honorable David Obey
Chairman
Committee on Appropriations
H-218 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jerry Lewis
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
H-218 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Lewis:

Thank you very much for your leadership in increasing federal
funding for basic science research. As supporters of scientific
research and education, we respectfully ask that you single out the
National Science Foundation (NSF) as a priority in your fiscal year
2007 Continuing Resolution appropriations legislation. Specifically,
we request that you fund NSF at the House-passed, President's
requested level of $6.02 billion in fiscal year 2007. This is
essential, because the flat funding for this agency under the
Continuing Resolution will directly inhibit our national
competitiveness and jeopardize American innovation.

The NSF is an agency that has suffered budget stagnation in recent
years and even a budget cut in fiscal year 2005. We have not managed
to come close to the doubling path for NSF set out in the 2002
Authorization Act. This year, however, we were heartened that the
budget request for the NSF included a substantial increase for the
"high-leverage fields of physical sciences and engineering" as part
of the proposed American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). This
boost in funding would allow for new innovative technologies to be
developed by NSF-funded scientists and engineers. The full House and
Senate appropriators supported the requested increase for NSF in the
FY07 appropriations bills. Our colleagues understood that the
increase represented a significant down-payment toward the goal of
enhancing U.S. global competitiveness by investing in basic science
research.

The NSF is the major source of federal funding in many fields such
as the basic sciences, mathematics, computer science and the social
sciences, and it funds approximately 20 percent of all
federally-supported basic research conducted by America's colleges
and universities. If Congress provides only flat funding,
peer-reviewed basic science research will suffer all across the
country. NSF-funded researchers have won more than 170 Nobel Prizes
and pioneered innovations that have improved quality of life of all
Americans. Additionally, NSF consistently earns top scores in all of
the Administration's budgetary performance measures and all grants
awarded undergo a rigorous peer-review process.

Completing the remaining fiscal year 2007 appropriations by way of a
long-term Continuing Resolution presents significant challenges and
will necessitate some difficult choices. We fully appreciate the
tight budget constraints that you are operating under, but a small
investment in science yields immeasurable results. By including the
requested level of funding for the NSF in the Continuing Resolution
you would be reflecting the overwhelmingly bipartisan will of the
Congress and making a significant investment in the future of our
nation. We believe NSF is one of the nation's most important policy
concerns and respectfully request that you fund NSF at the
House-passed, President's requested level of $6.02 billion in fiscal
year 2007.
****************** END OF LETTER ***********************************

1. Call your Representative's Washington, DC office on Friday, January 12 before noon (eastern time).

You may obtain the phone numbers from their official websites at www.house.gov.

Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for NSF. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Representative [name] sign onto the Dear Colleague Letter that is being circulated by Congressmen Bart Gordon, Vernon Ehlers and Rush Holt to support a $6 billion budget for NSF in the continuing resolution. Be sure to mention that the deadline for signing on is today (Friday, January 12th). Be prepared to mention how important NSF funding is to your research, academic department/institution, and/or your community. Legislative staffs are busy, so you may be asked if you would like to leave a voice mail - you do. Simply convey the same information you would have if you spoke to the staffer in person, but be sure to leave your contact information.

2. Fax your Representative

Your Representative's fax numbers are available on their website at www.house.gov.

Tips for an effective fax message:

-Be sure that the subject line is clear: "Please Support NSF in Continuing Resolution".

-Be sure that you include your contact information at the top of the letter; this must include your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. NOTE: many offices will discard correspondence that does not include contact information, or that comes from outside of their district/state.

-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you are writing to ask your Representative to sign onto the Dear Colleague Letter that is being circulated by Congressmen Bart Gordon, Vernon Ehlers and Rush Holt to support a $6 billion budget for NSF in the continuing resolution. Be sure to mention that the deadline for signing on is Friday, January 12th.

-If you have time, briefly explain why NSF funding for basic research is important to you and/or your institution (e.g., only source of funding for your area of research, helps support undergraduate/graduate student research experience, leads to innovation, etc).

You can also find more information on the NSF budget at the Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/appropsfy2007_nsf.html).


Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, Government Affairs Staff

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

Posted January 11, 2007