US House considers troubling research reauthorization bills

Over the past few weeks the US House has acted on bills to reauthorize research funding programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA as well as research funding at other agencies, including the Department of Energy Office of Science and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The America COMPETES Act—a two year reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and some programs within the Department of Energy (DoE)—was passed out of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on April 22 on a party line vote. The full House is expected to consider the bill in May. The bill would cut the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate by about 45 percent below the FY2015 enacted levels, and would cut the Geosciences Directorate by about 8 percent below FY2015 enacted levels. Funding levels in the bill are the same for FY2016 and FY2017.

The same committee also approved a reauthorization bill for NASA on a party-line vote. The measure (H.R. 2039) would cut authorized funding for the Science, Space Technology, and Aeronautics directorates at NASA, with greater cuts targeted for the Science Directorate's Earth Science program, where much climate change research is supported. 

UO is working in coalition on efforts to make improvements to the bills. COMPETES is expected to be voted on later this month under a rule that allow for amendments.