Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Legislative Alert! Urge The House to Restore ATE Funding

Congress is moving to the final stages of the legislative process for the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations legislation (H.R. 2847), which funds the National Science Foundation and its Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. The House has passed its version of the bill, which slashes the ATE program by over $29 million, or 57%. This cut would effectively terminate the program, leaving only enough money to fund current grants. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the bill, which funds the Administration's request of $64 million for the program, a $12.4 million increase.

The full Senate is expected to act on this legislation soon, after which a conference committee must resolve the differences between the two bills. Please contact your Representatives (phone, fax or email) BY JULY 15 and urge the House to recede to the Senate position and provide $64 million for the ATE program when H.R. 2847 comes before the conference committee. In addition to contacting your Representatives, please send a copy of your letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey and House CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan and any other member of the Appropriations Committee with whom you have a connection. Committee contact information is available here.

Key talking points in support of the program include:

  • The ATE program focuses on technician education, an often overlooked but vital aspect of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce. ATE programs provide students with the core STEM knowledge and technical expertise they need to succeed. ATE program graduates staff government labs and provide cutting-edge industries with the skilled workers they need.
  • ATE projects and regional and national centers educate students, develop curricula, and provide faculty professional development in such areas as biotechnology, renewable energy, nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing.
  • The ATE program is the main link between community colleges and the NSF. Without it, NSF support for institutions that educate nearly half of all undergraduates would be severely diminished.
  • If you are a current or past ATE grantee, tell your representative about the project and its impact on your campus.

Click here for assistance in identifying and contacting your congressional representatives. Please see AACC's letter to the House for further assistance.