Status Report

AIP FYI #46: Ehlers and Holt Working to Increase FY 2005 NSF Funding

By SpaceRef Editor
April 9, 2004
Filed under , ,

Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) have asked their
colleagues to join them in signing a letter requesting the “highest
possible level” of funding for the National Science Foundation in FY
2005. Holt and Ehlers, both physicists, sent an April 2 letter to
fellow representatives asking for their support of this effort.

The letter is addressed to VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies
Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY), with a copy
to be sent to Ranking Minority Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Walsh’s
subcommittee funds the National Science Foundation. Only last week,
this subcommittee held an afternoon hearing on the FY 2005 NSF
request (see .) At this
hearing, Walsh and Mollohan spoke of their strong support for NSF.
The Bush Administration requested a 3% or $167 million increase for
the foundation.

The amount of money that Walsh and his subcommittee colleagues will
have to allocate in this bill is expected to be very tight. These
appropriators will have to balance a diverse portfolio of programs
including veterans’ health care, EPA, NASA, HUD, and NSF. The bill
they will craft will fund everything from sewer treatment plants to
the President’s Moon-Mars initiative to veterans hospitals to new
housing to cutting-edge NSF research. One of the factors that will
go into the subcommittee’s decision-making process are expressions
of support from Members of Congress for different programs, through
letters such as that which Holt and Ehlers are soliciting signatures

As noted in previous issues of FYI, many such letters are now in
circulation on Capitol Hill. One of the most effective ways to
ensure that one of these letters is noticed is if constituents bring
it to the attention of their representative.

Last year, a similar letter was signed by 150 representatives. Holt
and Ehlers hope to meet or exceed this number in the new letter to
Chairman Walsh. Currently, the following representatives have
signed this letter: Burgess (R-TX), Ehlers (R-MI), Hall (R-TX), Holt
(D-NJ), Honda (D-CA), Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Johnson (R-IL), Rogers
(R-MI), Schiff (D-CA), Smith (R-MI), and Van Hollen (D-MD).

The deadline for signatures is May 15. Readers wishing contact
information on their Members of Congress may consult

The text of the Ehlers/Holt letter that is to be sent to Chairman
Walsh on the FY 2005 National Science Foundation budget follows:

“Dear Chairman Walsh:

“As supporters of fundamental scientific research and education, we
are writing to urge you to make the National Science Foundation
(NSF) a priority and fund it at the highest possible level in the
Fiscal Year 2005 budget.

“Congress recognized the importance of this investment by
overwhelmingly passing the National Science Foundation Authorization
Act (P.L. 107-368) which authorizes doubling the budget of NSF over
five years. We realize that budget realities may not allow Congress
to fund NSF at the FY 2005 authorized level of $7.4 billion.
However, we believe that significant increases in NSF’s overall
budget are warranted.

“NSF funds all disciplines of science and engineering. It is the
primary source of federal funding for non-medical basic research at
colleges and universities. NSF-funded research has made tremendous
contributions to our economic vitality and national security over
the past 50 years. Internet browsers, microelectronics, lasers,
communication systems and fiber optics, computer programs to predict
weather, design buildings and direct pilots have all begun as
NSF-funded projects. NSF plays a leading role in nanotechnology
research, preserving the world’s biocomplexity, and in developing
new information technologies and cybersecurity methods.

“NSF is also a key supporter of Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics (STEM) Education. It supports more than 200,000
students, teachers and researchers-essentially underwriting the
development of the next generation of scientists, engineers, and
technical workers.

“Math and science education is an enormous and pressing need. The
U.S. Department of Labor projects that new jobs requiring science,
engineering and technical training will increase four times faster
than the average national job growth rate. Workers will need a
fundamental understanding of math, science and engineering as well
as technical know-how to succeed. Unfortunately, a full third of
our students are performing below basic levels on assessment tests
in math and science areas. Now, more than ever, we must invest in
our children to develop their talent, ensure their success and to
develop the nation’s full talent to maintain the quality of our
workforce and our economic strength.

“NSF has also been praised as a model of administrative
efficiency-over 95% of its funds go directly to support education
and research programs. NSF has accomplished its research and
educational goals with only 4% of the total federal research and
development budget.

“We are mindful that you will be faced with very difficult choices
this year. We respectfully request your support to fund NSF at the
highest possible level–we cannot afford to sacrifice the research
and education which current and future generations need to ensure
their economic prosperity and domestic security.


“Cc: Ranking Member Mollohan”

Richard M. Jones

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094

SpaceRef staff editor.