Critical Timing: House Letter in Support of Science Funding

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Publication date: 
15 September 2008

A letter is now circulating in the House of Representatives requesting that Members sign a letter to the House leadership in support of higher levels of funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Constituent support for this letter will be a major factor in the number of representatives that sign it.

The deadline for representatives to sign this letter is early this week.  The telephone number  to reach a Member of the House of Representatives is 202-224-3121.

This letter is being circulated by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL).  In their September 11 "Dear Colleague" letter, the two representatives write, "We invite you to join us in signing the attached letter requesting that the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) receive strong support in any appropriations action that Congress takes in the remainder of the 110th session."

The letter to be sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), and House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is as follows:

"Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Boehner, Chairman Obey and Ranking Member Lewis:

"We are writing to urge you to support our national competitiveness and long-term economic future by increasing funding for the science programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in any future appropriations bill considered by the 110th Congress.

"When Congress passed the America COMPETES Act in 2007, we agreed on the importance of providing substantial funding for the NSF, the Office of Science, and NIST in order to maintain our economic future. The House passed and the Senate considered appropriations bills which aligned closely with the COMPETES authorization. However, the fiscal year 2008 omnibus provided the Office of Science, NSF and NIST with approximately $850 million less than those levels. Quite frankly, if funding is merely continued at current levels, these agencies will be unable to fund scientists, teachers and students across the country. The America COMPETES Act authorized $7.3 billion for NSF, $5.2 billion for the Office of Science, and $882 million for NIST labs and research for fiscal year 2009. A continuing resolution at the 2008 enacted level would be $2.5 billion below the levels! approved in the America COMPETES Act.

"We are extremely grateful for your support of science funding in the first supplemental spending bill which restored some of the losses in fiscal year 2008. Funds included in that measure helped stave off hundreds of layoffs at the Department of Energy laboratories and allowed some NSF facilities and researchers to continue their work. Despite this support, however, these agencies are still suffering. An infusion of additional funding in any appropriations vehicle - whether it be an economic stimulus package, supplemental appropriations bill, or continuing resolution - would stimulate innovative jobs and inspire the future generation of scientists currently discouraged by the dismal outlook for science. It is crucial to our national economy to include additional funding for the National Science Foundation, DOE Office of Science and NIST in any appropriations! bill considered in the remainder of the 110th Congress.

"Thank you for your consideration of this critical request."