House Science Committee Approves America COMPETES Act, Undercutting Social and Behavioral Sciences
House Science Committee Approves America COMPETES Act, Undercutting Social and Behavioral Sciences
 
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April 2015


The House Science Committee passed the America COMPETES Act on April 22, despite opposition by the broad science community, including AERA. The bill reauthorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology, research at the Department of Energy, and federal science education policy.

More than 30 national scientific organizations—including AERA —submitted statements and letters opposing to the bill.

Of great concern to the research community is the bill’s move to authorize the NSF by Directorate, in contrast to providing a top line number for Research and Related Activities as has been the practice for the past decade. The legislation calls for a 45 percent cut to the Directorate for Social and Behavioral Science and a 12 percent cut to the Directorate for Geosciences. Furthermore, AERA strenuously opposes the proposed flat funding for the Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR), given funding increases elsewhere and the significant research supported by EHR.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, on April 15, bypassed a subcommittee hearing, before quickly being taken up by the full committee.  AERA has heard that the America COMPETES Act will be heard on the House floor on May 18.

During the April 22 markup, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced an amendment to increase EHR funding from the enacted fiscal year (FY) 2014 amount of $866 million to the Obama administration’s proposed level of $963 million for FY 2015. The amendment failed.

The bill takes the name of America COMPETES—past bipartisan legislation—despite the fact that the NSF section reflects the language of the strictly partisan Frontiers, Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014. Last year, the FIRST Act was strongly opposed by AERA and the broad science community.  

 
 
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