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Subject - Call Your Member of Congress to Support Science

[Mailed from 15 September 2008]

AAS Action Alert 2008-02
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Marcos Huerta
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
huerta at

* Summary

This Action Alert calls upon AAS members to call their member of Congress and ask that they sign onto the Ehlers-Foster Support Science letter to the House leadership and the chair and ranking member of the appropriations committee. A sample phone Conversation are provided at the end of this alert along with the letter itself and the letter from Ehlers and Foster to their colleagues.

Don't hesitate to email me with your questions (huerta at

Please call as soon as possible as the deadline for members of the House to sign onto the letter is Tuesday, 5PM EDT

* Background

Each year members of Congress try and encourage their colleagues to support various projects, bills or priorities by distributing so-called "Dear Colleague" letters. The goal of the letters is to gain a large number of cosigners so that the topic of the letter gains in significance in the halls of Congress. The letters are then sent to the House leadership or members of certain committees.

Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Bill Foster (D-IL) have developed a letter to the Leadership of the House urging that any appropriation actions taken by the congress include strong support for NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science. They have written a Dear Colleague letter to ask their colleagues to sign onto the letter to the leadership.

The text of the letters are included below the sample phone conversation.

* Details

The deadline for members of Congress to sign onto this letter is the close of business, Tuesday, September 16. You can find your member of congress at the following link:


Staffer: Hello, Congressman King's office, can I help you.

Astronomer: Yes, I would like to speak with a staffer about the National Science Foundation.

Staffer: OK, I will see if she is in right now. <pause> She can speak with you now [note; you may get voice mail, leave same message as the next bit of conversation]

Sci.Staffer: Hello, I'm Mike Scott and I'm responsible for NSF can I help you?

Astronomer: Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a constituent of Congressman King's. I am calling to ask that she sign onto the Ehlers-Foster letter to the House leadership support science. This letter calls for strong support of NSF, NIST, and DoE Office of science in any appropriations bills passed this year. I think this is a very important issue and I hope that the Congressman can sign on. Congress passed the America COMPETES Act overwhelmingly last year, but appropriations have not materialized to fund the bill.

Sci. Staffer; I hadn't heard about this letter yet, can you tell me more about it?

Astronomer: You can call either Congressman Ehlers' or Foster's offices for details and to sign on. Julia Warner in Ehler's office (x53831) and Matt Ploszek in Rep. Foster's office (5-2976) are handling the letter.

Sci. Staffer: Great, I'll call them to find out more.

Astronomer: Good. If I can be of any help in the future just let me know. I work at the University in the Congressman's district and have use telescopes supported by NSF or have received grant money from the NSF in the past. Also, funding for all basic research is a key investment in the country's future, and the engine of a 21st century economy.


Ensure Economic & National Competitiveness:

Support Science Funding

Dear Colleague:

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.

Advances in science and technology underpin our ability to meet many of the challenges that America faces today, including securing our energy future, preventing terrorism, fostering innovation and economic development, and educating our children to be able to compete in the knowledge-based, global economy. As a nation, we must continue to invest in our scientific enterprise.

Unfortunately, funding for these agencies has fallen far short in the last several years. The America COMPETES Act established a pathway to strengthen the NSF, DOE Office of Science and NIST laboratories, but a continuing resolution at the 2008 enacted level would be $2.5 billion below the levels approved in the America COMPETES Act. Appropriations for these agencies must be bolstered. We hope that you will join us in asking for support for the U.S. innovation pipeline by signing the attached letter.

To sign the letter, please contact Julia Jester in Rep. Ehlers' office (x53831) or Matt Ploszek in Rep. Foster's office (5-2976).



Vernon J. Ehlers
Member of Congress

Bill Foster
Member of Congress


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
H-232 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John Boehner
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
H-204 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable David Obey
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
H-218 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jerry Lewis
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
1016 Longworth
Washington, DC 20515

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.


Mailed to US members from 15 September 2008

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