As the appropriations season gets underway in earnest, Representatives Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) have once again begun their push to secure more funding for the National Science Foundation by asking fellow members of the House to urge the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce to fund NSF at $6.1 billion in FY 2006 — an increase of $627 million over FY 2005 (11 percent). Ehlers and Holt have circulated a Dear Colleague (pdf) letter to the members of the House, laying out a concise case for NSF:

Advances in science and technology underpin our ability to meet many of the challenges that America faces today, including securing the homeland, preventing terrorism, fostering innovation and economic development, and educating our children to be able to compete in the knowledge-based, global economy. As a nation we must continue to invest in our scientific enterprise.
Supporting the National Science Foundation (NSF) is key to maintaining our preeminence in science and technology. NSF investments are aimed at the frontiers of science and engineering, where advances in fundamental knowledge drive innovation, progress, and productivity. NSF supports the education of scientists and engineers as well as the workforce of tommorrow — a workforce in which all workers, from office assistants to rocket scientists, will require basic math and science skills.

The Dear Colleague then asks the member to sign a letter (pdf) that will be delivered to Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Ranking Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV). That letter makes a more detailed case for NSF (it’s worth reading (pdf)).
Last year, Ehlers and Holt, with the help of the scientific community, were able to convince 157 of their colleagues (but only 41 Republicans) to sign a similar letter, which was a good symbolic result, but didn’t mitigate the 2 percent cut the agency suffered as a result of the FY 05 appropriations process. The hope this year is to encourage more members to sign on and greatly increase the number of Republicans…
…Which makes this a good time to consider — if you haven’t already — joining CRA’s Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN), our electronic mailing list that delivers timely information about key advocacy opportunities. CRA will once again be involved in this effort, and the CRAN will likely play a significant role. All the details to join are here!
Update: (4:45 pm, 4/8/05) Corrected the count of GOP signers.