Congress debated H.R. 4660, “Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes” on May 28 and 29, 2014. Congress considered 87 amendments. An amendment offered by Rep. Smith (R-TX) was puzzling–why reduce and then increase funding?
An amendment, offered by Mr. Smith (TX), to reduce and then increase the funding for research and related activities, National Science Foundation, by $15,350,000. The Smith (TX) amendment was agreed to by a recorded vote:208-201
The vote, mostly along party lines, was close; Rep. Reed, surprisingly bucking his party, voted NO. Rep Amash (R-MI), who explains his votes, cleared up the confusion:
I voted yes on the Smith of TX Amendment to #HR4660, which transfers $15.35 million within the National Science Foundation (NSF) account from social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) research to mathematics and physical sciences (MPS) research. Forced to choose between these two types of NSF research, I believe MPS research to be more objective. Reducing funding for SBE research by $15.35 million leaves its funding at the FY 2014 level. The amendment was agreed to 208-201.
Congress actually voted to transfer money from social science and economics research to physical science and math. One wonders how many members understood the purpose of the amendment, why most Republicans would favor it and most Democrats oppose it, and why Rep. Reed, thought to be supportive of physical science and math, would join most Democrats in opposing it?
What makes Rep. Amash believe “MPS research to be more objective?” Is that an important distinction, if true? Having decided to fund NSF research, is Congress right in specifying how much should be spent in each area of interest or might that better be left to the NSF to decide?
© William Hungerford – June 2014