House and Senate Efforts to Secure More Money for FY 2001 DOE Science Looking at the numbers, it is clear that the only way that the FY 2001 Department of Energy appropriation will provide the requested levels for various physics-related programs will be if more money can be found for the entire bill. Efforts are now being made in both the House and Senate to secure this additional funding. Crucial to the success of these efforts will be constituent support that is expressed within the next few days.
With about three weeks to go before the start of the new fiscal year, the Senate version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill has yet to clear the Senate floor. When it does, the funding levels for most physics programs are likely to be discouraging. Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) calculates that the money he had to work with for non-defense programs in his bill was over $600 million less than the President's request, and $73 million below the current year. "Severe budget constraints" were cited repeatedly as the reason why physics-related programs could not be funded at a higher level (see FYI #86.) While the numbers in the House version of the bill for physics programs were better, there was a cash crunch as well, the House appropriators stating, "Due to severe funding constraints, the Committee was unable to provide the significant budget increases requested by the Department in fiscal year 2001" (see FYI #73.)
Within the next few days, a letter will be sent to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D- MO) seeking more money for the entire bill. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) is leading this effort that is supported by 13 other representatives in her original "Dear Colleague" letter : Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Zach Wamp (R-TN), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Bart Gordon (D-TN), Tom Davis (R-VA), Lynn Rivers (D-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), Doc Hastings (R-WA), Heather Wilson (R-NM), and Ken Bentsen (D-TX).
As of yesterday afternoon, the following representatives agreed to sign the forthcoming letter to Hastert and Gephardt: Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), George Nethercutt (R-WA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D- NY), William Coyne (D-PA), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Mark Udall (D-CO), Sue Kelly (R-NY), Jennifer Dunn (R-WA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
The best way to ensure that a "Dear Colleague" letter like that from Rep. Biggert is noticed among the hundreds of letters received every day by a Member of Congress is when constituents take the time to call. The telephone number for the House of Representatives is 202-225-3121. The Biggert letter calling for a higher allocation for the FY 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill is below.
A similar effort is being made in the Senate by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Frank Murkowski (R-AK). Their letter (text not yet available) was sent to senators yesterday. The telephone number for the Senate is 202-224-3121.
"Dear Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Gephardt:
"We are writing to express our strong support for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science and the world class scientific research that it has funded. To this end, we encourage you to increase the FY 2001 budget allocation for Energy and Water, making it possible for the DOE Office of Science to receive a level of funding equal to the President's request. This level of funding will allow for the fullest utilization of the tremendous scientific talent and world's best research facilities supported by the DOE Office of Science.
"The DOE Office of Science is the nation's primary supporter of the physical sciences, providing key user facilities and an important partner in the areas of biological sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics and computing, and engineering. This federal research and development funding goes to scientists and students not just at our national labs, but at our colleges and universities as well. Furthermore, the Office of Science supports a unique system of programs based on large- scale, specialized user facilities and large teams of scientists focused on national priorities in scientific research. This makes the Office of Science unique among, and complementary to, the scientific programs of many other federal science agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). We applaud the strong support shown for research conducted within the NIH and NSF, and ask that this level of support be extended to DOE's Office of Science.
"Economic experts maintain that today's unprecedented economic growth would not have been possible were it not for the substantial research investments made by the public and private sectors over the past several decades. For America to continue to benefit from this kind of investment, we must provide strong financial support for basic research across the scientific disciplines - including the DOE's Office of Science.
"One of the challenges faced by the Office of Science during the past decade is that in constant dollars, its funding has been reduced by approximately 13 percent. Unfortunately, the research itself has been most significantly impacted, since the costs to maintain existing facilities and their associated staffs continue to rise with inflation. This has prevented the Office of Science from fully participating in exciting technical areas important to DOE's statutory mission, such as high performance computing and nanotechnology. It has also reduced the number of scientists and students able to conduct research using DOE's national user facilities.
"By providing the Office of Science with a substantial FY 2001 funding increase, Congress can reverse this troubling situation and help the DOE attract the best minds, support the construction of modern facilities, and continue to provide the quality of scientific research that has been its trademark for so many years. As Congress continues to work through the appropriations process, we encourage you to support the research that has been crucial in producing such thriving economic success. Thank you for your consideration."
Richard M. Jones