AAS ACTION ALERT 2004-06
Mailed to US members from aas.org at 9:00am 02 AUGUST 2004] ___________________________________________________________
David Black, Chair, Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy
Kevin Marvel, Deputy Executive Officer
AAS Members Need to Write Congress to Prevent Cuts to NASA and NSF for FY 2005
The House Appropriations Committee has approved the FY2005 VA-HUD-IA Appropriations bill, which includes significant reductions to both NSF and NASA. The next step in the appropriations process takes place in the Senate and may occur prior to the November elections. AAS members are asked to send letters to key senators and their own senators requesting that they fund NASA and NSF consistent with the President's budget, enabling these agencies to continue to provide the US public with programs that are important to the nation's pride and leadership.
Each year the appropriations process begins with the passage of the House VA-HUD-IA (Veterans Administration, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies) Appropriations bill. This passage took place July 22. The press release presenting the highlights of the bill is available on the appropriations committee's home page: http://appropriations.house.gov/. The full report is not yet available, but will be made available through the AAS public policy website as soon as it becomes available in digital form.
Some of the cuts that will impact astronomy, astrophysics or space science research are:
The House recommended a reduction of $111 million, or 2% overall for the coming fiscal year (compared to FY2004). If passed, this would be the only time in the last decade that such a reduction will have taken place. Reductions to the NSF directly impact research, construction of new research equipment, support of graduate students and the production of educational material on science for the Nation's school children. In addition, without significant increases in the NSF budget it is unlikely that the ambitious plan for ground-based astronomy laid out in the Decadal Survey will be possible. Public Law 107-368 (http://www.cnsfweb.org/StatementOnVA-HUDMarkup.7-22-04.pdf) outlined a doubling of the NSF budget over the five-year period from its passage in 2003. This appropriation number is well below the doubling track.
NASA (all reductions relative to the President's proposed level)
$12.4 million from the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission $70.0 million from the Lunar Exploration mission (zeroing out this budget line) $5.0 million from "other research" within the Structure and Evolution of the Universe theme $5.0 million from Living With a Star in the Sun-Earth Connection theme.
Just as every cloud has a silver lining, the Appropriations bill contains language that specifically helps science within the agency. Members of the House should be thanked for this language and the Senate should be requested to provide similar protective language. One specific quote is provided here:
"While the Committee is supportive of the exploration aspect of NASA's vision, the Committee does not believe it warrants top billing over science and aeronautics."
In addition (excerpted from AIP FYI 2004-98): The Committee would provide a total of $15,149.4 million for NASA in fiscal year 2005. According to the draft report, this is a decrease of $1,094.6 million (or 6.7%) from the budget request of $16,244.0 million, and a decrease of $228.7 million (or 1.5%) from the FY 2004 enacted appropriation of $15,378.0 million. In its FY 2005 budget request, NASA proposed reorganizing several of its accounts, which makes comparisons with prior-year funding levels difficult. As indicated below, the Committee report makes comparisons between its recommendations and the comparable FY 2004 appropriations "as estimated in this new account structure."
WHO TO CONTACT
The Honorable Christopher S. Bond
Chair, Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Subcommittee
United States Senate
274 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2503
DC Phone: 202-224-5721
DC Fax: 202-224-8149
The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
Ranking Member, Senate VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Subcommittee
United States Senate
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-2003
DC Phone: 202-224-4654
DC Fax: 202-224-8858
Dear Senator Bond,
I am writing to you to request that you vote to at least match the President's requested levels for NASA and NSF for FY 2005 and protect science efforts within NASA.
The reductions to these agencies proposed by the House VA-HUD-IA Appropriations Committee will severely impact astronomy, astrophysics and space science research in the United States. I also strongly urge you to use your oversight role as a member of the Senate to ensure that science remains an important aspect of NASA's mission. In my opinion, exploration without science is tourism. Some at the agency would move from this current understanding to a paradigm where science is not the driver for the agency's mission. I feel strongly that such a move would be a mistake.
Thank you sincerely for your support for science across all agencies of the federal government and your long-term support for NSF and NASA. If I can ever be of help to you in any way, please let me know.
Stahrs R. Twinklin
Underprofessor of Astrophysics and Exobiology Southwest Eastern North Dakota Teachers College
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