University groups and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have begun to weigh in on a legislative proposal by Republicans to reshape a major chunk of the U.S. government’s science funding enterprise—and so far there’s a lot of skepticism.
A prominent scientific society today also released an analysis that compares funding levels proposed by the Republican bill and a competing proposal from Democrats. The two parties are taking "vastly different" approaches, concludes budget analyst Matthew Hourihan of AAAS in Washington, D.C., which publishes ScienceInsider.
On Tuesday, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, introduced a bill—the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186)—that would shape key research, education, and policy programs at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. It is intended to be a follow-on to the COMPETES Act of 2010, which also covered programs at the Energy and Commerce departments. (Smith plans to deal with many of those programs in a separate bill.)
Under discussion for about a year, FIRST includes a number of provisions that have drawn criticism from research and university groups. Some of those concerns are likely to be aired Thursday, when a subcommittee of the House science panel is scheduled to debate and vote on the measure, which will then move to the full committee.
In a press release, Smith said FIRST is intended to help the United States remain globally competitive and ensure “that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.”