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House Science Panel Approves NSF Bill

March 21, 2014— The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology March 13 approved by voice vote a two-year authorization for various federal science agencies and programs, including the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4186) reauthorizes NSF; federal science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs; the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP); and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for fiscal years (FYs) 2014 and 2015.

For NSF, the bill authorizes $7.172 billion in FY 2014, which equals the current year’s funding, and $7.280 billion in FY 2015, which is $24.5 million above the president budget.

Of particular concern, the bill proposes to reduce significantly funding for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate at NSF.  As introduced, the bill would have authorized $150 million for the SBE Directorate in FYs 2014 and 2015.

The subcommittee agreed by voice vote to an amendment by the subcommittee’s ranking member, Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), to add $50 million to the SBE authorization level for each year.  The current estimate for SBE funding in FY 2014 is $257 million, and the president’s budget proposes $272 million in FY 2015.

The subcommittee rejected on a 10-8 party-line vote an amendment by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to restore funding levels for SBE by reducing authorization levels for other directorates.  The panel also rejected by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Lipinski to strip all of the authorization levels for directorates from the bill.

The AAMC signed a March 12 letter organized by the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) that expressed concerns with the bill. The letter states the bill “sets forth funding levels for the National Science Foundation that provide no real growth and stand to further erode our scientific enterprise.”

The letter also notes the low authorization levels for NSF force “trade‐offs that undercut important advances in science, and decimates the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate by authorizing funding at significantly low and unwarranted levels. The basic science discoveries in the social and behavioral sciences are critical to addressing national needs and are worthy of tax-payer support.”


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559

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