Before the month is out, the House VA, HUD, and Independent
Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will draft its FY 2003
funding bill. A new bipartisan effort has been launched to
increase the National Science Foundation's budget next year by
$720 million to $5.5 billion. Constituent involvement will be
instrumental to the success of this effort.
The initiative, in the form of a letter to two key House
appropriators, is being led by Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and
Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Ralph Hall (D-TX), Constance Morella
(R-MD), Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). They
are now seeking additional signatures on their letter to
appropriations subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) and
Ranking Minority Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV).
Walsh and Mollohan are well-known supporters of the National Science
Foundation. During a NSF hearing last month they described the Administration's
FY 2003 request as "a little deceptive," "pretty meager,"
and "inadequate" (see FYI
The $720 million increase sought by Ehlers and his colleagues would
give NSF an increase of 15% in their FY 2003 budget. The Bush Administration
requested an increase of 5%, which reduces to 3.3% after adjusting for
requested program transfers (see FYI
#17). The Coalition for National Science Funding issued a FY 2003
funding statement calling for a 15% increase (see http://www.cnsfweb.org/).
This statement was endorsed by AIP and three of its Member Societies:
the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and
the American Physical Society.
This letter will delivered to Walsh and Mollohan by May 17.
Ehlers sent a copy of this letter today in the form of a "Dear
Colleague" to all the Members of the House of Representatives.
It will probably be one of many Dear Colleague letters showing
up in congressional mail boxes today or tomorrow. The success
of this effort will be greatly enhanced if constituents contact
their representatives requesting that they sign this letter. A
strong showing of support on this letter will strengthen the
hand of Walsh and Mollohan as they endeavor to provide the
highest possible appropriation for the National Science
Two web sites maintained by the House of Representatives will assist
you in communicating with your representative. E-mail correspondence
can be sent through http://www.house.gov/writerep/
Telephone numbers can be obtained at http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html
Both sites use zip codes for Member identification. U.S. mail is handled
slowly due to security concerns.
The letter by Ehlers and his colleagues to Reps. Walsh and
Mollohan on the FY 2003 NSF appropriations follows:
"Dear Chairman Walsh and Ranking Member Mollohan:
"We are writing as longtime supporters of fundamental scientific
research and education. Science and technology fuel the growth
of our economy, provide the means of our national security, and
inspire our children. Yet many of the benefits we reap today
stem from wise investments made decades ago. We believe that we
must now increase the budget of the National Science
Foundation the only Federal agency devoted to supporting basic
research in science, math, and engineering across all fields and
science and math education at all levels in order to provide
the discoveries, technologies, and workforce necessary for the
future prosperity of our nation.
"As the war against terrorism has demonstrated, technology is
key to America's strength. Laser-guided precision bombs exist
today because of basic research performed a half-century
earlier, long before the many applications of the laser were
realized. As pointed out by the Hart-Rudman Commission on
National Security, 'the inadequacies of our systems of research
and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security
over the next quarter century than any potential conventional
war that we might imagine.'
"There is a growing consensus that investing in fundamental
scientific research is one of the best things we can do to keep
our nation economically strong. This fact has been recognized by
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, NASDAQ President Alfred
Berkeley, Former Speaker Gingrich, the Committee for Economic
Development, and many other respected experts from across the
political spectrum. Business Week cautions: 'What's needed is a
serious stimulant to basic research, which has been lagging in
recent years. Without continued gains in education and training
and new innovations and scientific findings the raw materials
of growth in the New Economy the technological dynamic will
"NSF's impact over the past half century has been monumental.
Ideas first conceived in the labs of NSF-funded researchers now
permeate our daily lives. These include Internet browsers,
Doppler weather radar, fiber optics, earthquake hazard
mitigation, even the geographic information systems used to
coordinate rescue efforts at the World Trade Center. NSF-funded
scientists discovered the cause of the ozone hole, found planets
around other stars, created nanoscale carbon 'buckyballs', and
have garnered over 100 Nobel Prizes.
"NSF is also vital to supplying our nation with scientists,
engineers, and skilled technological workers. NSF provides
grants to college-level scientists for cutting-edge research and
technology. These scientists train students, many of whom then
go into industry and become a crucial part of the knowledge
transfer between universities and industry. A five-year study
released in 1997 showed that technology transfer from academic
research added more than $21 billion supporting 180,000 jobs to
the American economy each year.
"There has never been a more critical or opportune time to
bolster the education of America's children. NSF's math and
science education programs work at the pre-college level to
raise the scientific and technological literacy of our children,
who are tomorrow's workers, teachers, consumers, and public
citizens. NSF further aims to improve the skills and content
knowledge of K-12 math and science teachers through innovative
programs like the Math and Science Partnerships. NSF programs
have become important resources for broadening the participation
of under-represented groups such as minorities and women in the
fields of science, math, and engineering.
"Responding to recent medical and biological breakthroughs, and
new opportunities to cure disease, the Federal government this
year completes a 5-year, $13.7-billion effort to double the
budget of the National Institutes of Health. Yet, related
technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
ultrasound, digital mammography, and genomic mapping could not
have occurred, and cannot now improve to the next level of
proficiency, without underlying knowledge from NSF-supported
work in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering,
and computer sciences. In comparison, funding for this
complementary work of NSF has fallen dangerously out of balance.
In fact, this year the proposed $3.7-billion increase to the NIH
budget is larger than the total research budget of NSF.
"We ask you to address this imbalance and strengthen science and
technology research, development, and education by increasing
the NSF budget to $5.5 billion for FY2003 ($720 million over its
FY2002 level). The increase would be used to expand core science
programs, enabling NSF to begin funding highly ranked grant
proposals that are turned down solely for lack of funding. It
would also fully fund K-12 education programs that have been
authorized by the House, as well as large facility projects that
have already been approved by the National Science Board. We
believe that Congress' long-term goal should be to at least
double the resources currently available to NSF."