AAS ACTION ALERT 2003-02
This action alert requests AAS members to write to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Veteran’s Administration-Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD-IA) Appropriations Subcommittee requesting that funding be provided to meet the President’s ambitious goal of doubling the NSF budget.
BACKGROUND AND SITUATION
Last November, President George Bush signed the NSF Authorization Act of 2002 into law. This law Sets the ambitious goal of doubling the NSF budget in five years. In order to accomplish this task, NSF must receive increases of about 15% per year for the next five years.
Last week, the House VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Subcommittee finished “marking-up” (or drafting) the appropriations bill that funds NSF and NASA, among other agencies. The funding level proposed by the House for the NSF was only 6.2%, well below the level necessary for doubling the NSF budget in five years.
If passed into law, this bill would NSF with a FY04 budget of $5.689 billion, which is $329.1 million higher than the enacted FY03 level. The division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, soon to be headed by AAS member Mike Turner, would receive a 6.4% increase from $1.041 billion to $1.108 billion, an increase of about $67 million.
Other divisions, such as Biological Sciences, Engineering and Geosciences would all receive smaller increases under the proposed House appropriation.
The next step in the appropriations process has already begun, namely the markup of a partner appropriations bill by the Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations subcommittee. It is likely that this bill will not be passed out of the subcommittee until after the August recess.
This provides a perfect opportunity for AAS members to contact both their own Senators and the Chair and Ranking Members of the Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Subcommittee asking that they step up to the challenge laid down by President Bush and provide NSF with a substantial increase above the FY03 level.
The Coalition for National Science Funding
(www.cnsfweb.org), in which the AAS actively participates, recommends that NSF be funded in FY 2004 at a level of $6.309 billion, the amount authorized by the President in the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. Although this is a substantial increase (about 18%) over the FY 2003 level, it is the funding level agreed to by both Congress and the President.
AAS members are strongly encouraged to write letters to both their Senators and Senators Bond and Mikulski, who are the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Subcommittee. A sample letter is included below.
Addresses for members own Senators can be found on the AAS Zip-to-It web pages: www.aas.org/policy/aas.bios.html.
The Honorable Christopher S. Bond
United States Senate
274 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2503
The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senate
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2003
Dear Senator Bond,
I am writing to ask that you appropriate funds to the National Science Foundation to meet the President’s ambitious goal of doubling the NSF’s budget in five years as outlined in the NSF Authorization Act of 2002.
As you know, the NSF plays an important role in funding scientific research throughout our Nation. NSF plays an especially important role in astronomy, supporting national facilities that are used by astronomers from all over the United States. The NSF also supports the education and training of scientists through extensive programs beginning in the K-12 grades and culminating with Postdoctoral research support programs.
I have published many scientific papers with data obtained using the 4 meter optical telescope located on Kitt Peak in Arizona and am planning on using the soon to be constructed Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which will be constructed in the high altiplano desert of Chile. All of these instruments are funded by NSF. I have two graduate students who are supported by NSF funds and had a postdoc several years ago, who has since received a prestigious CAREER award, a special program for early-career scientists.
I do hope you will fund the NSF at the level authorized by Congress last year and agreed to by the President last November. Science has a major role to play in our society and the NSF is one of the most cost effective ways to enhance both the scientific capabilities and scientific workforce of our Nation.
If I can ever be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. I would be happy to host either you or your staff at my institution and can provide you a tour of our facilities, should you desire.
Stahrs R. Twinklin, Ph.D.
[[Mailed to US members from aas.org at 10:00am
24 JULY 2003]
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