Senators have until this Thursday, April 10 to sign a letter supporting a $7.5 billion budget for the National Science Foundation in FY 2015. Senators were alerted to this opportunity yesterday in a “Dear Colleague” from Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). Congressional offices receive many of these requests every day. These requests are far more likely to be reviewed and acted upon if a constituent contacts their senator or representative. A similar letter in the House of Representatives requesting $7.5 billion for the foundation drew 132 signatures.
The letter will be sent to Chairman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) of the Senate Appropriations Committee. They are also the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation. Both senators are strong supporters of the National Science Foundation. The Markey letter provides an important means of expression for other senators to demonstrate their support of the foundation.
The current NSF budget is $7,171.9 million. The Administration requested $7,255.0 million, an increase of $83.1 million or 1.2 percent.
The deadline for senators to sign the Markey letter on the FY 2015 National Science Foundation budget is 5:00 PM on April 10. The Senate telephone number is 202-224-3121. The text of the letter follows:
“Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Vice Chairman Shelby,
“We write to urge you to include $7.5 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the FY2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
“The future is now. A foundation and fundamental understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is vitally important as we educate the next generation of leaders to compete in the global economy. Demand for highly educated and highly trained professionals in STEM and health care-related fields are at an all-time high. The U.S. must produce one million more STEM professionals in the next decade to keep up with workforce needs in growing STEM fields. Our nation is ranked 26th in math and 21st in science performance. We cannot afford to continue to fall further behind in STEM education.
“The NSF is one of our country’s most important workforce development initiatives and tools for economic competitiveness. The NSF is the only federal agency specifically responsible for supporting essential education and research across all science and engineering fields—a role that is vital to cultivating a workforce capable of keeping pace with global demand. Nearly one out of every four basic research projects at colleges and universities across the U.S. is supported by the NSF. The NSF awards the majority of its budget on a competitive basis to small groups of researchers at public and private institutions of higher learning through approximately 11,000 new grant awards per year.
“Awards from the NSF help enable faculty and students to access the resources they need and support the necessary infrastructure and tools to address some of our society’s most pressing concerns. Research funded by the NSF has led to discoveries as small as antifreeze proteins to those as large as new planets. In many cases, the basic research facilitated by the NSF is the expanded upon and applied commercially by domestic companies benefiting the private sector and the U.S. economy. The applications of NSF research have helped many businesses create jobs by developing new products from advanced radar systems and next generation high definition videoconferencing to more efficient and affordable solar energy materials and genetically engineered tissues for medical procedures.
“We must remain committed to strengthening our workforce and competing with countries that are investing significant resources in STEM education and innovation. We urge you support $7.5 billion to fund the NSF to ensure that we continue to cultivate STEM talent so our nation remains globally competitive.
“Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request.