October 25, 2019

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Vice Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Chairwoman, Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kay Granger
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger:

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) - a broad-based group of professional organizations, universities, scientific societies, and businesses - appreciates Congress' continued support for the fundamental scientific research and educational programs supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As Congress seeks to finalize fiscal year 2020 (FY20) appropriations legislation, we respectfully offer two recommendations. First, we urge Congress to complete the FY20 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill before the current continuing resolution expires on November 21. Second, we strongly urge Congress to make a significant funding increase for NSF a high priority.

We greatly appreciate the good work of both chambers to increase the government's investment in NSF, and recognize that the House-passed mark of $8.6 billion would place NSF on the upward funding trajectory that it needs to continue U.S. leadership in science and technology. We request that Congress appropriate at least $8.6 billion for NSF in FY20. We respectfully suggest, however, that additional funds are needed to address the effects of years of underinvestment in the fundamental scientific research supported by NSF.

CNSF's original appropriations request of $9 billion for NSF in FY20 sought to address the effects of years of underinvestment in the fundamental scientific research supported by NSF. Those unmet needs continue. A 2017 National Science Board report stated, "approximately $3.92 billion of cutting-edge research deemed very good or higher in NSF's merit criteria was unfunded in FY 2017." The U.S. is leaving potentially transformative scientific research on the table, just as our allies and adversaries are making significant investments. One effective way to combat this concern is to ensure that NSF receives the highest funding level feasible so that the agency can support as many of its strong proposals as possible. This will allow NSF to support national priorities such as artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, and advanced manufacturing. Otherwise, instead of the U.S. leading in the 21st century, we will fall behind other nations who are pushing forward in these areas.

For the last 70 years, NSF has been an essential pillar of America's scientific enterprise and is the only federal agency with the mission of supporting all the scientific disciplines. Research supported by the agency is vital to the public interest and essential if our country is to stay at the forefront of scientific progress and the cutting edge of technology and innovation. Now is the time for the U.S. to make a significant and robust investment in NSF.

Thank you for considering our views. We are grateful for your continuing support for NSF.

Sincerely,

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF)

AIBS is a member of the Coalition for National Science Funding

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