A bipartisan effort is underway in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to ensure that the National Science Foundation (NSF) does not become a budgetary casualty in the appropriations process for fiscal year (FY) 2009.

Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Brian Baird (D-WA) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to each member of House of Representatives asking for their signature on a letter requesting that the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee make NSF a priority in the FY 09 appropriations process. The Dear Colleague letter, a common means for members of Congress to demonstrate support for specific federal programs, requests that the CJS subcommittee restore NSF to a pathway to double its budget as outlined in the America COMPETES Act. Specifically, the letter is seeking a FY 09 appropriation for NSF of $7.326 billion. The President’s FY 09 request is $6.854 billion.

The House Dear Colleague letter also requests that Representatives include the NSF in their “programmatic requests” to the Appropriations Committee. Programmatic requests ARE NOT earmarks – a request to fund specific projects or activities, usually in a specific state or congressional district.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Kit Bond (R-MO) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter asking the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science to support NSF by providing at least the President’s FY 09 request of $6.85 billion.

Interested scientists might wish to contact their Representative and Senators to request support for NSF. Simply encourage them to sign the NSF Dear Colleague letter. When speaking with your Representative’s office, please also request that he or she includes NSF in their programmatic requests to the Appropriations Committee. The deadlines for signatures in the Senate and House are Friday, 7 March, and Wednesday, 12 March, respectively.

Contact information is available at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, or in copies of the AIBS Congressional Directory.

For more detailed information about the federal budget and appropriations process, please visit: http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/budget_source.html


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