Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) have
launched an effort to increase funding for the Department of Energy's
Office of Science next year. The success of their effort directly depends
upon the extent to which constituents contact their senators in the
coming ten days.
One of the best methods to demonstrate support for a program is through
a joint letter signed by many Members of Congress. Approximately two
weeks ago, Alexander and Bingaman asked their colleagues to sign a letter
which will be sent to Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee
Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-NV).
This letter requests their "support for an inflation-adjusted
increase of 3.2 percent over FY05 budget levels for this Office, a 7
percent increase above the Administration's FY06 request."
The following 26 senators have agreed to sign the letter: Alexander
(TN), Allen (VA), Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Bingaman (NM), Boxer (CA),
Cantwell (WA), Dodd (CT), Dorgan (ND), Durbin (IL), Harkin (IA), Inouye
(HI), Kennedy (MA), Kerry (MA), Lautenberg (NJ), Levin (MI), Lieberman
(CT), Mikulski (MD), Murray (WA), Nelson (FL), Obama (IL), Pryor (AR),
Salazar (CO), Specter (PA), Stabenow (MI) and Warner (VA).
A similar letter last year was signed by these 55 senators: Akaka (HI),
Alexander (TN), Baucus (MT), Bayh (IN), Biden (DE), Bingaman (NM), Breaux
(LA)*, Boxer (CA), Cantwell (WA), Clinton (NY), Coleman (MN), Cornyn
(TX), Corzine (NJ), Daschle (SD)*, Dayton (MN), DeWine (OH), Dodd (CT),
Dorgan (ND), Durbin (IL), Edwards (SC)*, Feinstein (CA), Fitzgerald
(IL)*, Graham (FL)*, Graham (SC), Harkin (IA), Hollings (SC)*, Hutchinson
(TX), Inouye (HI), Kennedy (MA), Kerry (MA), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA),
Lautenberg (NJ), Leahy (VT), Levin (MI), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR),
Lugar (IN), Mikulski (MD), Murray (WA), Nelson (FL), Pryor (AR), Reed
(RI), Roberts (KS), Rockefeller (WV), Santorum (PA), Sarbanes (MD),
Schumer (NY), Smith (OR), Snowe (ME), Specter (PA), Stabenow (MI), Voinovich
(OH), Warner (VA) and Wyden (OR) [*no longer seated]
Members of Congress receive many "Dear Colleague" letters
requesting their signature on letters expressing support for a program.
The probability that a letter will be signed by a Member greatly increases
if constituents inform their senator or representative of the letter
and request that the Member sign it. Members who have previously signed
a similar letter are more likely to do so again. The Capitol telephone
number is 202-224-3121.
The following is the text of the letter from Senator Lamar Alexander
(R-TN) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that is to be spent to Senator
Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) requesting a 7% increase
in the DOE Office of Science FY 2006 budget. This letter is scheduled
to be sent the middle of April.
"Dear Chairman Domenici and Ranking Member Reid:
"There is no room for complacency about maintaining
the United States' current scientific strength and technological leadership.
That is why we are writing to bring your attention our bipartisan
support for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science (the
Office') which faces significant cuts (3.8 percent) in the proposed
FY06 budget. We request your support for an inflation-adjusted increase
of 3.2 percent over FY05 budget levels for this Office, a 7 percent
increase about the Administration's FY06 request.
"This Office, the largest funding source for research
in the physical sciences, keeps the United States at the leading edge
of discovery in high performance computing, nanotechnology, and in
basic energy research and related biosciences.
"The Administration's FY06 budget request contains much
good news for the U.S. scientific enterprise. The Spallation Neutron
Source, which will restore U.S. leadership in neutron scattering science,
is fully funded for start-up operations. The Office will begin operations
at four Nanoscale Science Research Centers, ensuring that the U.S.
stays well ahead of our international competitors in this emerging
new scientific discipline. Additionally, construction and planning
expenses for a number of major new facilities and ITER (a major international
research collaboration in fusion energy) are supported.
"But this encouraging news comes at a high price. To
support these critical new initiatives - and ensure the long-term
vitality of DOE's scientific infrastructure - the Office of Science
is forced to cuts its core research funding to individual researchers.
It is not unrealistic to expect that 25 percent reductions in existing
scientific personnel and operations at scientific facilities will
be needed if the Administration's budget request is approved without
consideration of existing programs. As many as 2,000 highly qualified
scientific personnel, including our best and brightest graduate students
and post doctoral fellows searching for breakthroughs discoveries,
may have to be taken off of promising projects. Major scientific research
facilities that still have significant productive years ahead of them
may have to run at wasteful levels far below their maximum operating
capacity, or close down.
"Such a major loss of intellectual capital would mean
a nationwide decrease in our scientific capability and economic competitiveness.
America's physical sciences' research infrastructure, yet again, would
be particularly hard hit, coming at a time when our international
competitors in Asia and Europe are increasing their investments in
these critical disciplines that underpin virtually ever facet of our
lives and economy. We ignore at our peril the unprecedented competitive
challenges from abroad. Other countries are investing heavily in research
that produces talented, highly-educated workers and cutting-edge companies.
For example, China graduates almost four times as many engineers as
the United States. India is pouring money into technology parks to
lure back native talent and build world-class advanced technology
companies. South Korea has leveraged rapid global technology diffusion
to leapfrog' into the global economy.
"Our edge in science and technology is at risk, and
the Administration's proposed out-year budget projections to FY2010
offer no relief. In fact, the situation worsens. The budget for the
Office not only fails to keep pace with inflation, but actually declines
for the next five years. Unless we stop this slide and restore the
budget to a reasonable level, our entire U.S. scientific enterprise
is in danger of eroding. Sustained investment in science and technology
must be at the core of America's strategy to successfully compete.
"We are acutely aware of the tight constraints on the
available budgetary resources. Still we believe we must reaffirm the
centrality and importance of our basic research investments. We urge
you to increase the funding for the Office of Science to ensure that
America remains at the forefront of scientific capability, thereby
enhancing our ability to shape and improve our nation's and the world's