In this four-part series, we will take a look at important issues for the research community in 2015. Today’s topic is the National Science Foundation. We already looked at 21st Century Cures and federal research funding. Our last post about the National Institutes of Health will come later this week.
Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, penned an op-ed for Politico titled, “No, the GOP Is Not at War With Science.” It is an eye-catching title for a science policy advocate like myself who is looking to read the tea leaves on what this new Congress will be like
Over the past year and a half, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has confronted the National Science Foundation on matters of merit review and has singled out numerous NSF-funded grants he believes to be questionable uses of the agency’s funding.
In an extremely rare Saturday session of the U.S. Senate, senators passed the massive fiscal 2015 spending bill by a vote of 56-40. Passage ends any possibility of a government shutdown and ensures most of the federal government is fully funded through the end of the fiscal year.
This evening, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2015. This appropriations bill combines all twelve appropriations bills that Congress works on during the year and condenses it into a single omnibus bill.
Most Congressional committees are supposed to draft bills that set policy priorities and funding recommendations for the agencies under their jurisdiction. The bill authorizing the policy priorities of the National Science Foundation—the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010—expires this year. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology and the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are tasked with reauthorizing the NSF in order to provide a clear direction for this and other agencies. Previous COMPETES bills…
In 2011, the Budget Control Act established caps for discretionary spending by the federal government through 2021. This codified the maximum amount the government could spend on the discretionary portion of the budget, which includes programs such as science funding, defense, and infrastructure. Further, if federal spending exceeds that year’s BCA-established cap, then sequestration, or across-the-board spending cuts, would be used to bring the budget under the cap. In March 2013, Congress agreed to spending levels that were above the…