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Background and Summary

Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has placed a stop on the passage of the NSF Authorization bill of 2003 ( H.R. 4664 , S. 2817 ), which would authorize a doubling of the NSF budget over the coming 5 years and also includes substantial portions of the Tech Talent bill ( S.1549 ). This bill is very important for the future of the NSF and includes creative new ideas for increasing the technically trained workforce through a competitive grant program at the NSF. Its passage will also allow the possibility of completing many of the prioritized projects contained in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.

Although the reason for Kyl's effort to block this legislation (which was scheduled for a unanimous consent vote in the Senate in the evening session of October 16) is not known for sure, some reputable sources claim he is acting at the request of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). AAS members in general are requested to write letters of support in the coming months to the OMB and to the Office of Science and Technology Policy supporting increases in the budget of the NSF. It is likely that the OMB is working with a number of Senators to block this bill. AAS members should be prepared for a number of Action Alerts in the coming weeks on this issue. The time spent responding is time well spent.

Our community has produced an ambitious and prioritized decadal survey, which is highly valued by Congress. To construct and operate the projects in the survey, we must work together to support the NSF, NASA and the Department of Energy when their budgets come under threat.

The legislation being blocked by Senator Kyl authorizes the increases necessary to realize the construction of key astronomy facilities. Without this authorization, which would set a general climate of budget increase for the NSF, it is unlikely that many of the projects requiring NSF funding prioritized in the Decadal Survey will be undertaken.

Action Requested

AAS members, especially those in Arizona, are encouraged to contact Senator Kyl's office (contact information below) and ask that he support the quick passage of the NSF Authorization Act of 2003 and the Tech Talent Bill.

AAS members are requested to CALL or FAX Senator Kyl's office, especially if they are residents of Arizona, and to write the directors of OMB and OSTP.

Sidney Wolff, Chair Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy

Kevin B. Marvel, Deputy Executive Officer

Contact Information
Senator Jon Kyl

Phone: 202-224-4521

FAX: 202-224-2207
Mr. Mitch Daniels, Director

Office of Management and Budget

Executive Office of the President

725 17th Street, N.W.

Washington, DC 20503
Dr. John H. Marburger III, Director

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Executive Office of the President

Washington, DC 20502

[Mailed to US members from at 6:55pm 17 OCT 2002]

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