When President Bush sent his FY 2007 Department of Defense budget request
to Congress in February, he recommended a 3.3% or $48 million cut in
total 6.1 basic research funding. Efforts are underway in both the Senate
and House of Representatives to demonstrate support for an increase
in this funding. Constituent support for a letter that will be sent
to House appropriators is now being sought.
As described in FYI #32 (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/032.html),
a letter was circulated by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Rick Santorum
(R-PA), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) asking their
colleagues for their signatures on letters to be sent to the Republican
and Democratic leaders of the appropriations and authorization committees.
This letter requested a "ten-percent increase for 6.1 basic research
programs in FY 2007 and in subsequent years." The following twenty-four
senators signed this letter:
CALIFORNIA: Boxer (D), Feinstein (D)
CONNECTICUT: Lieberman (D)
GEORGIA: Chambliss (R)
IOWA: Harkin (D)
MARYLAND: Mikulski (D)
MASSACHUSETTS: Kennedy (D), Kerry (D)
MICHIGAN: Stabenow (D)
NEW MEXICO: Bingaman (D), Domenici (R)
NEW JERSEY: Lautenberg (D)
NEW YORK: Clinton (D)
NORTH CAROLINA: Dole (R)
OHIO: Dewine (R), Voinovich (R)
OREGON: Smith (R), Wyden (D)
PENNSYLVANIA: Santorum (R)
SOUTH DAKOTA: Johnson (D), Thune (R)
VERMONT: Jeffords (I)
WASHINGTON: Cantwell (D), Murray (D)
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are also circulating
a letter in support of higher funding for the DOD SMART program and
for additional funding for the 6.1 research program.
Members of Congress appreciate and take notice of letters from constituents
thanking them for their actions.
A similar effort is now underway in the House. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)
and Jim Leach (R-IA) have asked their colleagues to sign a letter that
will be sent to Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C.W. Bill
Young (R-FL) and Ranking Member John Murtha (D-PA). This letter urges
them "to support Pentagon-funded basic research . . . programs
in the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill at robust levels."
As explained in previous issues of FYI, Members of Congress receive
many such Dear Colleague letters. It is far more likely for these letters
to be acted upon if constituents alert their Members to the letter.
for information on how to contact a Member of Congress.
The text of Cooper/Leach Dear Colleague letter to Young and Murtha
regarding FY 2007 6.1 funding follows:
"We write to urge you to support Pentagon-funded basic research
(budget account 6.1') programs in the FY2007 Defense Appropriations
Bill at robust levels. Specifically, we urge your adoption of the recommendation
contained in the National Academies (NAS) report, Rising Above the Gathering
Storm, calling for an increase in basic defense research in FY2007.
We believe that a great effort in support of basic defense research
is absolutely critical to meet the unprecedented military and economic
security challenges facing our nation now and in the future
"Much of our nation's economic and military superiority has been
built on past investments in basic research at the Department of Defense
and the human talent base that such investments have generated. Radar,
digital computers, cryptology, wireless mobile communications, the Internet,
lasers and fiber optics in communications and in medicine, composite
materials, satellite navigation, and global positioning systems (GPS)
are all technologies that came entirely or largely out of past Defense
research investments. These technological advances have been of immeasurable
benefit to the nation, helping to grow our economy and ensure that our
military forces are the best equipped, most capable in the world.
"Today, there is growing concern that United States' scientific
and technological leadership is in jeopardy. During the past two years,
a number of organizations including the NAS, the Center for Strategic
International Studies, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Business
Roundtable among others, have noted the signs of U.S. complacency emerging
in scientific and technological fields in which our dominance was unquestioned
not so long ago. These groups cite evidence that America's innovation
capacity is stagnating at the same time as countries such as China and
India are increasing theirs. They also warn that action must be taken
to both improve math and science education and encourage more U.S. students
to pursue degrees in science, math, and engineering.
"As President Bush said in his State of the Union Address, to
keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We
must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our
greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working,
ambitious people - and we are going to keep that edge.' Today, the 6.1
basic research account funds the newly authorized Science Mathematics
and Research for Transformation (SMART)/National Defense Education Program
(NDEP) program and other educational programs such as the National Defense
Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships. Increased appropriations
for these basic research accounts will help the Department of Defense
attract the best and brightest young Americans into studying the areas
most critical to national security.
"In its report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a National Academies
panel recommends increasing federal funding for basic research in the
physical sciences and engineering, including DOD sponsored research.
These increases are needed to address years of under-funding of basic
research in the physical sciences and engineering and to ensure our
future scientific and technological leadership. At DOD alone, the National
Research Council reported last year that, from 1993 to 2004, the funding
for 6.1 basic research declined by 10 percent and 18 percent in real
terms according to the inflation indexes used by the DOD and the Consumer
Price Index (CPI), respectively.
"We hope that you will agree with us that the challenges our nation
faces demand a strong response now, so that we will continue to enjoy
scientific and technological superiority in the future. We believe that
an increase for 6.1 basic research programs in FY2007 and in subsequent
years, as recommended by the NAS, will lay the foundation to enable
the United States to sustain its military and economic superiority."