The full House has now passed a new America COMPETES Act, which sets funding priorities for scientific research at several government agencies. While ostensibly intended to make US research more globally competitive, the bill would take some budgeting decisions out of the hands of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and instead allow Congress to set its research priorities.
In keeping with previous Congressional attacks on research, this one would target the social sciences at the NSF, cutting its budget by nearly half. Also targeted are the Earth sciences, which would take a 12 percent hit (a separate bill is contemplating even more drastic cuts to geoscience research at NASA). Environmental research at the Department of Energy would take a 10 percent cut, as would the Advanced Research Projects Agency‐Energy, a high-risk research body modeled on DARPA.
A Nature News report on the passage also notes some unusual provisions. All federal agencies would be prohibited from using DOE research on fossil fuels to set government regulations, undermining the ability of the government to generate an evidence-based foundation for action. And the bill singles out climate change when calling for agencies to avoid funding research that overlaps with any done by other departments.
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