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FYI Number 8: January 19, 2007

Upcoming Deadline: Senate Letter on Full Funding of NSF Request

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) has sent a letter to his Senate colleagues asking them to sign a letter to Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), asking them to provide $5.99 billion to the National Science Foundation in FY 2007.

The deadline for signatures for this letter is Monday, January 22. Constituents wanting to contact their senators’ offices to alert them to this letter can reach the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121.

As stated in FYI #3 regarding a similar letter in the House: “Congress adjourned in late December without taking action on this [FY 2007 NSF appropriations] bill, providing stopgap, level funding for NSF and other affected agencies through February 15. In December, [House Appropriations Committee] Chairman [David] Obey and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) announced that they would support legislation continuing FY 2006 funding, in almost all instances, through September 30 (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/141.html.) Under this arrangement, NSF would lose between $410 and $439 million (depending on what version of the funding bill was used.) As described in FYI last year, under the President's budget request, ‘The foundation's funding rate would increase from 20% to 21%, growing from 6,190 grants to a projected 6,760 research grants. Annual award size would increase; the average duration of research grants would remain unchanged at 3.0 years. Another projection shows the total number of people involved in NSF activities, ranging from K-12 students and teachers to senior researchers would increase from an estimated 171,080 to 177,485.’” NSF Director Arden Bement, Jr. has written a brief letter regarding the impacts of flat funding; see: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf0720/nsf0720.jsp

The following senators have thus far agreed to sign the Lieberman letter:
CONNECTICUT: Lieberman
HAWAII: Akaka
MICHIGAN: Levin, Stabenow
NEW JERSEY: Menendez
NEW MEXICO: Bingaman
NEW YORK: Clinton
OHIO: Brown
VERMONT: Sanders
WISCONSIN: Feingold

The text of this letter follows:

“Dear Chairman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:

“We are writing to request that you uphold the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related agencies subcommittee request of $5.99 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) as you complete work on the fiscal year 2007 continuing resolution. This funding is essential because keeping the NSF at its 2006 level under the continuing resolution will jeopardize valuable research that fosters American competitiveness and innovation.

“The NSF has suffered from budgetary constraints in recent years, and even saw its budget cut in fiscal year 2005. In 2007, the President's budget included a significant increase in NSF funding, particularly for physical sciences and engineering. This increased funding will support the development of innovative technologies, and will promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States. NSF funding is also critical to our nation's continued investment in higher education, providing 20 percent of all federally-funded research in America's universities and colleges. In their respective 2007 appropriations bills, both the House and the Senate concurred with the President's increased funding request for the NSF.

“The NSF is a sensible investment of our federal dollars. The agency earns exemplary budgetary performance scores, and all grants are awarded through a peer-review process. The NSF is unique in that a small federal investment in research has the potential to yield immeasurable results in both the short and long term.

“By including the request level of funding for the NSF in the continuing resolution you will be following the overwhelmingly bipartisan will of the Congress. Last year, nearly 80 senators supported competitiveness legislation that authorized significant increases in research and development, including NSF funding. The House concurred, passing a FY 2007 appropriations bill that funded the NSF at $6.02 billion. We believe that the NSF is one of the nation's most important policy concerns, and we respectfully request that you fund the NSF at the Senate recommended level of $5.99 billion in 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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