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Senate Letters in Support of DOE Office of Science and National Science Foundation

Richard M. Jones
Number 33 - March 4, 2008   |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Two letters are now circulating among Members of the U.S. Senate supporting the Administration's FY 2009 requests for the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

The Office of Science letter was sent by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and is addressed to Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-NM).

The National Science Foundation letter was sent by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO), and is addressed to Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL).

Members of Congress receive many "Dear Colleague" letters every day. They are far more likely to be acted upon if constituents express their support for the letter. Information on Communicating with Congress can be viewed at http://www.aip.org/gov/nb1.html

No deadline date was given for the Office of Science letter; signatures on the NSF letter are requested by March 7. See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2008/031.html regarding a House letter in support of NSF.

Office of Science letter:

Dear Chairman Dorgan and Ranking Member Domenici:

We are writing to express our support for at least the President's Fiscal Year 2009 request of $4.722 billion for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science.

The Office of Science is authorized to receive $5.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2009 under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58). In approving the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-69), Congress recognized that investing in basic scientific research is critical to preserving America's brainpower advantage so that we can compete in the global economy and keep our good jobs from going overseas. The America COMPETES Act authorizes the doubling of the Office of Science's budget over a seven-year period, and the President's request is consistent with this important bipartisan policy goal.

Under your leadership, the Subcommittee has approved Energy and Water appropriations bills with increases in the Office of Science funding consistent with its near-term doubling. Unfortunately, due to breakdowns in the appropriations process, those funding levels have not been fully realized. This year, it is very important that we get the Office of Science's budget back on track.

The Office of Science is at the forefront of our efforts to preserve America's competitive edge and avoid being overtaken by nations like China and India. Strengthening our investment in the Office of Science is the right thing to do to meet our long-term challenges for abundant energy, clean air and water, and a vibrant economy.

The Office of Science is supporting discoveries in essential new fields - biotechnology, nanotechnology, and supercomputing - that will revolutionize the 21 5t Century economy. With past performance as our guide, we can look forward to even more breakthroughs, such as: stronger, more functional materials; improved understanding of climate change; advances in nuclear medicine to detect and treat cancer without invasive surgery; better sensors for homeland security and our troops in the field; and new transportation fuels produced from crops and agricultural wastes.

In addition, through its many world-class user facilities and programs, the Office of Science plays an indispensable role in attracting, educating, training, and sustaining the nation's scientific workforce. Thousands of university researchers - professors, "post-docs", and undergraduate students - also rely on support from the Office of Science each year. Roughly half of the researchers at facilities run by the Office of Science come from universities, and about a third of Office of Science research funds go to institutions of higher learning.

There has been strong bipartisan support for increasing funding for the Office of Science. In April 2006, 70 senators signed a letter in support of the President's funding request for Fiscal Year 2007. Again in March 2007, 64 senators signed a similar letter in support of the President's Fiscal Year 2008 funding request.

We are acutely aware of the tight constraints on available budgetary resources, and commend you and the subcommittee for making the Office of Science a funding priority in prior years. We urge your continued support for the Office of Science so that we can maintain this critical investment in our nation's future.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION LETTER:

Dear Chairman Mikulski and Ranking Member Shelby:

Thank you for the work you have done to invest in the National Science Foundation (NSF). A bold federal investment over the years in basic science research has been made at NSF thanks to your leadership on this subcommittee. As you know, last year the America COMPETES ACT became law with strong bipartisan support, which further demonstrates the strong bipartisan commitment to a federal investment basic research and science education. To continue that good work, we ask that you provide $6.85 billion for the NSF. This is a 13% increase over the estimated FY 2008 funding level, and consistent with the Administration's FY 2009 budget request.

As you know, the NSF investments in research and education have continuously returned exceptional dividends to the American people. Now, globalization has amplified worldwide competition for scientific discovery, technological innovation, talent, and leadership making it imperative that the U.S. support the NSF adequately.

The NSF has proven to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars as 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 benefits to society.

Thank you for your consideration of this request which is critical to the advancement of research and education in support of American innovation.

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