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Mailed to US members from at 12:50pm 12 APRIL 2005]



David Black, Chair of AAS Committee on Astronomy and
Public Policy and
Kevin B. Marvel, Deputy Executive Officer


This Action Alert calls upon AAS members to call or FAX their member of Congress and ask that they sign onto the
Ehlers-Holt NSF Dear Colleague Letter. A sample phone Conversation and FAX are provided at the end of this alert along with a link to the letter itself and the cover letter sent by Ehlers and Holt to their colleagues. Constituent pressure leads to members of Congress signing onto these letters. Please help Mr. Ehlers and Mr. Holt as they try to help the NSF.


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.

Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Hold (D-NJ) have developed a Dear Colleague Letter to the Leadership of the House Appropriations Committee responsible for funding NSF. They call on this committee to support NSF at a level of $6.1 billion in FY 2OO6.

A PDF version of the letter is available at

A PDF version of the cover letter that Ehlers and Holt distributed to their colleagues is located at


The deadline for members of Congress to sign onto this letter is April 22. With such a short amount of time available, normal letters to members will not be useful. AAS members are encouraged to call or FAX their Representative requesting that they sign onto the Ehlers-Holt Dear Colleague. A sample phone conversation and FAX are included below for reference. It is strongly recommended that AAS members modify these communications to meet their own style and personal details. It makes such communications much more useful.

You can get the phone number and fax number of your member of Congress through the AAS Zip-To-It feature, available at


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 Suzy Snapdragon 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-Holt NSF Dear Colleague letter. This letter calls for an FY2006 funding level for NSF of $6.1 billion. I think this is a very important issue and I hope that the Congressman can sign on.

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

Astronomer: I have a link to the letter I can email you, but it might be better if you call either Congressman Ehlers' or Holt's offices for details and to sign on. Julia Warner in Ehler's office (x53831) and Valerie Thomas (x55801) in Holt's office 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. It is really important for our country that NSF be funded better in the future.


Office of Representative King

Dear Representative King,

I am writing to ask that you sign onto the Ehlers-Holt NSF Dear Colleague letter. This letter calls for an FY2006 funding level for NSF of $6.1 billion.

As a constituent and scientist, I feel that this funding
level for NSF is necessary and justified. NSF supports a
wide range of basic research, including astronomy. The NSF supports telescopes, which are available to all US astronomers for use as well as supporting graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and also public outreach and education activities.

Our nation needs an NSF that is well-funded. Many proposals to NSF that are ranked highly are turned away each year simply due to lack of funds. With a budget of $6.1 billion, NSF could support a larger fraction of these excellent proposals as well as supporting ongoing scientific research, education programs and instruments.

Please sign onto the Ehlers-Holt Dear Colleague letter. Julia Warner in Ehler's office (x53831) and Valerie Thomas (x55801) in Holt's office are available for your staff to find out more and to collect your signature.

If I can be of any help to you in the future, please do not hesitate to call on me. I am a professor at Pipsqueak University, in your district where I teach astronomy and perform research supported in part by the NSF.

Thank you for your consideration,


Stahrs R. Twinklin


Mailed to US members from at 11:45am 12 April 2005

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