But we're worried that their version will not match the great funding level for planetary exploration proposed by the House of Representatives—$1.45 billion. This number is very close to our goal of $1.5 billion per year, and it includes strong funding for the next generation Mars mission and pre-planning activities for Europa. We're quite happy with it.
So we're asking all space advocates in California and Maryland to call the offices of two specific Senators before the end of the week to encourage them to embrace the House's planetary number.
Why California and Maryland? Well, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California sits on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, and Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland chairs that same subcommittee as well as the full Senate Appropriations committee. Both Senators' offices are primed on the issue.
So if you're a constituent of either state, I strongly encourage you to call before the end of the week, even if you've called their offices before. It only takes a minute.
Here are the numbers for their D.C. offices (the Senate is in recess this week but their staff are still working):
Senator Dianne Feinstein (California): (202) 224-3841
Senator Barbara Mikulski (Maryland): (202) 224-4654
And below is a brief script I wrote that you can use as a guide for what to say on the phone. If you call, you'll speak to a staffer who will record your message. And, unfortunately for those outside of California or Maryland, they really only care if you're a constituent.
Note: This is just an example, and you can phrase things how you like, but the important detail is that we're encouraging the Senate's Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee to draft a NASA budget with at least $1.45 billion for planetary science. That is the level passed by the full House of Representatives on May 30th.
Senate office: Senator X's office, how can I help you?
You: Hi, I'm a constituent of the Senator's and a registered voter, and I'm calling to encourage the Senator to support NASA and its planetary science division. The House just pass legislation, H.R. 4660, that funds planetary science at $1.45 billion in 2015, and I urge her to include similar language in the Senate's version of the NASA budget.
I know that the Senator is on the appropriations subcommittee that covers NASA, and it's very important to me that she supports planetary science at the House's level.
Senate Office: Thank you. I will pass that along to the Senator.