first_imgRepublicans control both houses of Congress, but they don’t speak with one voice when it comes to funding research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and other agencies. That difference became clear last week after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a 2016 spending bill that does not call for the steep cuts to climate and social science programs approved a week earlier by the House of Representatives. And although the House would give NSF a bit more money, the Senate version hews closer to the balanced portfolio that most scientists prefer.In the House, key lawmakers have made headway with the notion that the social sciences and climate research contribute less to the nation than “pure” disciplines, such as physics, biology, engineering, and computing. That worldview is reflected in a $51 billion spending bill approved by the House on 4 June to fund NSF, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and several other federal agencies.At NOAA, for example, the so-called CJS (Commerce, Justice, and Science) bill would cut climate research programs by $30 million, or 19% below current levels, and $60 million below the president’s request. At NASA, it would keep overall science spending flat, but cut earth science spending by $90 million, or 5%, a level $264 million less than the president’s request. At the same time, the House would boost NASA’s planetary science programs $216 million above the president’s request, including a big hike for a proposed mission to the jovian moon Europa. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img The NSF portion of the House bill takes a swipe at both the geosciences and the social and behavioral sciences. Although NSF’s overall budget would inch up by $50 million, to $7.4 billion, the bill would significantly reshuffle NSF’s research priorities. It directs NSF to put 70% of its $6 billion research account into four of its six research directorates—biology, computing, engineering, and math and physical sciences. (They now receive about 65%.) That change, combined with language protecting a research infrastructure program and graduate fellowships, would result in a combined 16%, $255 million cut to the two directorates under attack—geosciences and the social and behavioral sciences (see chart).“I’m asking NSF to prioritize,” said Representative John Culberson (R–TX), who led the writing of the CJS bill, after his spending panel approved it last month. “I want … them to make the hard sciences—math and physics and pure science—a priority.”That’s a view shared by a fellow Texan, Republican Representative Lamar Smith, head of the House science panel. The pure sciences “typically yield better results,” he told Science last week. “That’s why we moved the money.”Smith’s comment came after a speech to The Heartland Institute, a libertarian group that vociferously challenges mainstream climate science, in which he praised the House’s effort to cut NASA’s earth science budget. “NASA spends a lot of money on climate change—they call it earth science—so we cut NASA’s earth science budget by close to 40%,” Smith said, exaggerating the 6% cut from current levels. “The reason we did it is that there’s only one agency dealing with space exploration, while there are a dozen agencies dealing with climate change.”The Senate CJS panel, led by Senator Richard Shelby (R–AL), has taken a very different tack. Its bill, approved by the full appropriations panel on 11 June, gives NASA’s earth science program most of the large increase requested by the president and tops the House number for NASA science by $15 million, although that is still short of the president’s request. At NOAA, it would shave just $5 million from climate research, a 3% cut from current levels. And Senate appropriators do not single out any of NSF’s six directorates for rough treatment. Instead, they list all of them by name in a report accompanying the bill. Those words are “the subcommittee’s subtle way to say that it does not agree with the House’s approach,” says Joel Widder of Federal Science Partners, a small consulting firm in Washington, D.C.The Senate language could come into play later this year when the two bodies try to reconcile their differences, Widder says. Last year, he notes, the Senate did not oppose a House move to block any increase for geosciences, which made it into the final CJS bill. This year, the Senate staffers who will assist in the negotiations “are well aware of our concerns,” says Amy Scott of the Association of American Universities in Washington, D.C., which opposes the earth and social science cuts. “And they have told us that their members have a different perspective than in the House.”The dispute is playing out in the shadow of a broader question: how much money will be available for all federal programs. Two years ago, the Obama administration and congressional Republicans struck a deal on overall spending levels that helped ease passage of spending bills for 2014 and 2015. But there’s no such agreement for fiscal year 2016, which starts on 1 October. Republican leaders are sticking to strict annual spending caps set by a 2011 law as they assemble their budget bills. In contrast, most Democrats and some Republicans want the caps lifted so they can spend more on both defense and civilian programs.Senate Democrats are threatening to block work on several spending measures in hopes of getting Republicans to the negotiating table. Without some kind of compromise, the entire federal government would have to shut down after 30 September. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more