Forty-three senators have joined U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a letter urging appropriators to ensure that the proposed Department of Energy Office of Science budget is not cut this year. The Senators wrote to Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Republican Pete Domenici (R-NM).
“Allowing the proposed Office of Science budget to be cut could have negative short-term and long-term consequences for the competitiveness of our nation’s scientific enterprise and economy. Clearly there is broad support in the Senate for the Office of Science, and I hope we can take action in Congress to ensure these essential scientific R&D programs are adequately funded this year,” Bingaman said.
“Even during times of tight budgets, we need to make this pro-growth investment in scientific research to create new jobs and keep them from being shipped overseas to India and China,” said Alexander. “We must keep facilities like Oak Ridge’s Spallation Neutron Source open for business to develop materials used in everything from new medicines to next-generation electronics.”
The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2007 requested an increase of $500 million for the Office of Science – from $3.6 billion to $4.1 billion. The senators' letter urges appropriators to keep that level intact.
In their letter, the senators wrote: “This level of funding is justified in a time of increasing dependence on overseas sources of energy and where U.S. industry is finding it easier every day to outsource R&D talent overseas.” Noting the challenge posed by China and other global competitors, the letter continues, “The Office of Science is at the forefront of our efforts to compete in this global economy.”
As the letter notes, flat-line funding could result in:
•Closure of laboratory facilities that scientists from across the country can apply to use, such as Oak Ridge’s Spallation Neutron Source;
•Increased construction costs for new facilities;
•Layoffs of hundreds of scientists, engineers and support staff, and
•A sharp reduction of university programs.
The letter mirrors one the two Senators spearheaded last year that garnered the signatures of 70 Senators.