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FYI Number 6: January 17, 2007

Closing Deadline: Senate Letter in Support of DOE Office of Science

An effort is underway in the Senate to demonstrate support for increasing the FY 2007 budget for the Department of Energy Office of Science. As has been done for the National Science Foundation and Office of Science in the House of Representatives, a “Dear Colleague” letter has been sent to senators asking that they sign a letter of support to key Senate appropriators.

There are many letters now circulating on Capitol Hill intended to demonstrate to appropriators the need to increase FY 2007 funding over last year’s level for many departments, as is being discussed in a proposed year-long Continuing Resolution (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/141.html.) Constituent interest is very important in getting such a letter noticed and promptly acted upon.

Timing is critical. The below letter to Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-NM) is being circulated by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Appropriators will be meeting soon to decide on final funding levels for this year.

The deadline for signatures is this Friday, January 19.

The telephone number of the U.S. Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121

The Bingaman/Alexander letter follows:

Dear Chairman Dorgan and Ranking Member Domenici:

We are writing to request that you uphold the President's fiscal year 2007 funding request of $4.l billion for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science as you complete your work on a Continuing Resolution for the remainder of fiscal year 2007.

In April 2006, 70 Senators communicated their support for the President's funding request for the Office of Science in a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/056.html.] In May 2006, the House of Representatives voted 404-20 to approve an Energy and Water appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007 that included the $4.1 billion request for the Office of Science [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/062.html.] In June 2006, the Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee unanimously recommended an appropriation of $4.2 billion for the Office of Science, a figure that exceeded the President's request [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/088.html.]

This level of funding is justified in a time of increasing dependence on overseas sources of energy, and where U.S. industry is finding it easier every day to outsource R&D talent overseas. American and other foreign companies have located more than 600 R&D centers in China to support its increasing high technology manufacturing base. These companies are also setting up large research centers in India to take advantage of a highly trained and eager scientific workforce comparable in every way to the best and brightest the U.S. has to offer.

The Office of Science is at the forefront of our efforts to compete in this global economy. Freezing Office of Science funding at the fiscal year 2006 level would have a significant adverse impact, such as: closure of national user facilities; increased construction costs of new facilities; layoffs of hundreds of scientists, engineers, and support staff; a sharp reduction of university programs; and jeopardizing U.S. commitments to domestic industry and international partners.

We recognize the challenges you face in crafting a Continuing Resolution for the rest of the year. At the same time, failure to adequately fund the Office of Science would be a significant missed opportunity that would hurt our ability to compete and innovate in the basic research areas vitally important to our economic future. We are grateful to the subcommittee's past support for the Office of Science and its programs, and urge you to maintain that strong bipartisan commitment as you finish your work for fiscal year 2007.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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