Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) have asked their
colleagues to join them in signing a letter requesting the "highest
possible level" of funding for the National Science Foundation
in FY 2005. Holt and Ehlers, both physicists, sent an April 2 letter
to fellow representatives asking for their support of this effort.
The letter is addressed to VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations
Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY), with a copy to be sent to
Ranking Minority Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Walsh's subcommittee
funds the National Science Foundation. Only last week, this subcommittee
held an afternoon hearing on the FY 2005 NSF request (see http://www.aip.org/enews/fyi/2004/045.html .)
At this hearing, Walsh and Mollohan spoke of their strong support for
NSF. The Bush Administration requested a 3% or $167 million increase
for the foundation.
The amount of money that Walsh and his subcommittee colleagues will
have to allocate in this bill is expected to be very tight. These appropriators
will have to balance a diverse portfolio of programs including veterans'
health care, EPA, NASA, HUD, and NSF. The bill they will craft will
fund everything from sewer treatment plants to the President's Moon-Mars
initiative to veterans hospitals to new housing to cutting-edge NSF
research. One of the factors that will go into the subcommittee's decision-making
process are expressions of support from Members of Congress for different
programs, through letters such as that which Holt and Ehlers are soliciting
As noted in previous issues of FYI, many such letters are now in circulation
on Capitol Hill. One of the most effective ways to ensure that one
of these letters is noticed is if constituents bring it to the attention
of their representative.
Last year, a similar letter was signed by 150 representatives. Holt
and Ehlers hope to meet or exceed this number in the new letter to
Chairman Walsh. Currently, the following representatives have signed
this letter: Burgess (R-TX), Ehlers (R-MI), Hall (R-TX), Holt (D-NJ),
Honda (D-CA), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Johnson (R-IL), Rogers (R-MI), Schiff
(D-CA), Smith (R-MI), and Van Hollen (D-MD).
The deadline for signatures is May 15. Readers wishing contact information
on their Members of Congress may consult http://www.aip.org/gov/commcong.html
The text of the Ehlers/Holt letter that is to be sent to Chairman
Walsh on the FY 2005 National Science Foundation budget follows:
"Dear Chairman Walsh:
"As supporters of fundamental scientific research
and education, we are writing to urge you to make the National
Science Foundation (NSF) a priority and fund it at the highest
possible level in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget.
"Congress recognized the importance of this investment
by overwhelmingly passing the National Science Foundation Authorization
Act (P.L. 107-368) which authorizes doubling the budget of NSF
over five years. We realize that budget realities may not allow
Congress to fund NSF at the FY 2005 authorized level of $7.4
billion. However, we believe that significant increases in NSF's
overall budget are warranted.
"NSF funds all disciplines of science and engineering.
It is the primary source of federal funding for non-medical basic
research at colleges and universities. NSF-funded research has
made tremendous contributions to our economic vitality and national
security over the past 50 years. Internet browsers, microelectronics,
lasers, communication systems and fiber optics, computer programs
to predict weather, design buildings and direct pilots have all
begun as NSF- funded projects. NSF plays a leading role in nanotechnology
research, preserving the world's biocomplexity, and in developing
new information technologies and cybersecurity methods.
"NSF is also a key supporter of Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. It supports more
than 200,000 students, teachers and researchers essentially underwriting
the development of the next generation of scientists, engineers,
and technical workers.
"Math and science education is an enormous and pressing
need. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that new jobs requiring
science, engineering and technical training will increase four
times faster than the average national job growth rate. Workers
will need a fundamental understanding of math, science and engineering
as well as technical know-how to succeed. Unfortunately, a full
third of our students are performing below basic levels on assessment
tests in math and science areas. Now, more than ever, we must
invest in our children to develop their talent, ensure their
success and to develop the nation's full talent to maintain the
quality of our workforce and our economic strength.
"NSF has also been praised as a model of administrative
efficiency over 95% of its funds go directly to support education
and research programs. NSF has accomplished its research and
educational goals with only 4% of the total federal research
and development budget.
"We are mindful that you will be faced with very
difficult choices this year. We respectfully request your support
to fund NSF at the highest possible level--we cannot afford to
sacrifice the research and education which current and future
generations need to ensure their economic prosperity and domestic
"Cc: Ranking Member Mollohan"
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
firstname.lastname@example.org (301) 209-3095