More than 125 associations and universities in the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) have endorsed a letter to key House and Senate appropriators urging them to provide $7.4 billion to the National Science Foundation in FY 2011. This letter comes as House and Senate leaders are developing a strategy to provide funding after December 3 when a short-term appropriations bill expires that has kept the federal government in operation.
CNSF was established in 1988 and has approximately 125 members, including the American Institute of Physics and five of its Member Societies: American Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of America. Further information about the coalition is available here.
The Obama Administration requested $7,424.4 million for NSF for FY 2011, an increase of $551.9 million or 8.0 percent over the previous year. In describing the request, then NSF Director Arden Bement stated “This keeps us on the road to President Obama's plan to double NSF's budget. The plan is part of an overall strategy to increase the nation's total R&D investment to three percent of Gross Domestic Product.”
The House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee approved a FY 2011 bill that provided the full request. The bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee included almost the entire request.
House and Senate leaders are negotiating how to continue FY 2011 funding for the remaining ten months of this fiscal year. The two major choices are another continuing resolution to provide funding on a short-term basis, or an omnibus appropriations bill that would provide funding for the rest of the year. It is expected that House Democratic leaders have the votes to pass an omnibus bill. Far less certain is whether there are sixty votes in the Senate to pass this $1 trillion+ bill. Fiscal conservatives prefer another continuing resolution that would extend funding into the first weeks of the new Congress when Republicans will control the House. Most observers predict that a continuing resolution will be passed to provide funding through February or March.
The November 17 CNSF letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL), House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA), House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Wolf (R-VA) follows:
“Thank you for your strong support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) over the years and thus far in the Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) budget process. As the FY11 appropriations are finalized, we the undersigned organizations urge you to maintain the $7.4 billion budget level supported by the House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the President. This budget level demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to address America’s competitiveness by doubling the NSF budget over ten years, as authorized in the bipartisan 2007 America COMPETES Act and promoted by the President.
“NSF is the only federal agency that supports research and education across all science and engineering disciplines. This support has led to many fundamental breakthroughs in these disciplines which in turn have contributed to U.S. technological innovation and therefore to our economic strength.
“With the U.S. currently experiencing a challenging economic environment, robust investments in NSF should be viewed as part of a long-term strategy to address our economic vitality. Such funding is imperative to maintain a prosperous innovation pipeline, by training the innovation workforce, creating new products and improving current products.
“Like you, we are concerned about U.S. economic well-being. The innovation pipeline is as important for future economic growth as it has been in the past, perhaps even more so.
“We ask you to continue your commitment to address U.S. competitiveness through the vigorous support of basic research funding at NSF. Thank you for your consideration.”