When President Bush sent his FY 2007 Department of Defense budget request to Congress in February, he recommended a 3.3% or $48 million cut in total 6.1 basic research funding. Efforts are underway in both the Senate and House of Representatives to demonstrate support for an increase in this funding. Constituent support for a letter that will be sent to House appropriators is now being sought.
As described in FYI #32 (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/032.html), a letter was circulated by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) asking their colleagues for their signatures on letters to be sent to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the appropriations and authorization committees. This letter requested a "ten-percent increase for 6.1 basic research programs in FY 2007 and in subsequent years." The following twenty-four senators signed this letter:
CALIFORNIA: Boxer (D), Feinstein (D)
CONNECTICUT: Lieberman (D)
GEORGIA: Chambliss (R)
IOWA: Harkin (D)
MARYLAND: Mikulski (D)
MASSACHUSETTS: Kennedy (D), Kerry (D)
MICHIGAN: Stabenow (D)
NEW MEXICO: Bingaman (D), Domenici (R)
NEW JERSEY: Lautenberg (D)
NEW YORK: Clinton (D)
NORTH CAROLINA: Dole (R)
OHIO: Dewine (R), Voinovich (R)
OREGON: Smith (R), Wyden (D)
PENNSYLVANIA: Santorum (R)
SOUTH DAKOTA: Johnson (D), Thune (R)
VERMONT: Jeffords (I)
WASHINGTON: Cantwell (D), Murray (D)
Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are also circulating a letter in support of higher funding for the DOD SMART program and for additional funding for the 6.1 research program.
Members of Congress appreciate and take notice of letters from constituents thanking them for their actions.
A similar effort is now underway in the House. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Jim Leach (R-IA) have asked their colleagues to sign a letter that will be sent to Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Ranking Member John Murtha (D-PA). This letter urges them "to support Pentagon-funded basic research . . . programs in the FY 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill at robust levels."
As explained in previous issues of FYI, Members of Congress receive many such Dear Colleague letters. It is far more likely for these letters to be acted upon if constituents alert their Members to the letter. See http://www.aip.org/gov/commcong.html for information on how to contact a Member of Congress.
The text of Cooper/Leach Dear Colleague letter to Young and Murtha regarding FY 2007 6.1 funding follows:
"We write to urge you to support Pentagon-funded basic research (budget account ‘6.1') programs in the FY2007 Defense Appropriations Bill at robust levels. Specifically, we urge your adoption of the recommendation contained in the National Academies (NAS) report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, calling for an increase in basic defense research in FY2007. We believe that a great effort in support of basic defense research is absolutely critical to meet the unprecedented military and economic security challenges facing our nation now and in the future
"Much of our nation's economic and military superiority has been built on past investments in basic research at the Department of Defense and the human talent base that such investments have generated. Radar, digital computers, cryptology, wireless mobile communications, the Internet, lasers and fiber optics in communications and in medicine, composite materials, satellite navigation, and global positioning systems (GPS) are all technologies that came entirely or largely out of past Defense research investments. These technological advances have been of immeasurable benefit to the nation, helping to grow our economy and ensure that our military forces are the best equipped, most capable in the world.
"Today, there is growing concern that United States' scientific and technological leadership is in jeopardy. During the past two years, a number of organizations including the NAS, the Center for Strategic International Studies, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Business Roundtable among others, have noted the signs of U.S. complacency emerging in scientific and technological fields in which our dominance was unquestioned not so long ago. These groups cite evidence that America's innovation capacity is stagnating at the same time as countries such as China and India are increasing theirs. They also warn that action must be taken to both improve math and science education and encourage more U.S. students to pursue degrees in science, math, and engineering.
"As President Bush said in his State of the Union Address, ‘to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people - and we are going to keep that edge.' Today, the 6.1 basic research account funds the newly authorized Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)/National Defense Education Program (NDEP) program and other educational programs such as the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships. Increased appropriations for these basic research accounts will help the Department of Defense attract the best and brightest young Americans into studying the areas most critical to national security.
"In its report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a National Academies panel recommends increasing federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering, including DOD sponsored research. These increases are needed to address years of under-funding of basic research in the physical sciences and engineering and to ensure our future scientific and technological leadership. At DOD alone, the National Research Council reported last year that, from 1993 to 2004, the funding for 6.1 basic research declined by 10 percent and 18 percent in real terms according to the inflation indexes used by the DOD and the Consumer Price Index (CPI), respectively.
"We hope that you will agree with us that the challenges our nation faces demand a strong response now, so that we will continue to enjoy scientific and technological superiority in the future. We believe that an increase for 6.1 basic research programs in FY2007 and in subsequent years, as recommended by the NAS, will lay the foundation to enable the United States to sustain its military and economic superiority."