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Tags: congress | partisan | war | science

Next Partisan 'War' in New Congress Will Be Over Science

By    |   Friday, 28 November 2014 07:58 PM EST

After midterm battles, an immigration standoff and amid a switch of power in Congress, the next political fight in Washington will likely be over science, Politico reports.

Democrats are bracing for what they fear will be a Republican onslaught against everything from climate change to National Institutes of Health research funding, to a reverse of course at the EPA, Politico noted.

The anticipated fight won't be over accountability but rather broad trust in the science itself, Politico said, as a new guard questions billions in funding across agencies including the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

Democrats fear a sharp turn from what some have seen a bipartisan spirit directed at science, even as other issue have been divisive. “I think we can destroy our own research — and we can get criticized by others around the world on the direction we’re taking — in the next two years,” Texas Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the ranking member on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, told Politico.

Some Republican lawmakers, however, have stepped up to question what they see are frivolous projects and studies that they argue are not in the taxpayers' best interests as tightening spending becomes a broader priority.

Some members of the science community itself are already fearing a new order and issued a statement of concern, according to Politico.

The Association of American Universities' Board of Directors decried the "exhaustive information" requested by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology from the NSF for 60 "merit-reviewed projects."

"Congress has a duty to conduct constructive oversight of federal agency activities, and federal agencies such as NSF need to be transparent about their processes for reviewing and selecting grants. Our concern is that the Committee’s current inquiry into the value of selected NSF grants, based primarily on their titles, is far from constructive," they wrote. "In fact, it is having a destructive effect on NSF and on the merit review process that is designed to fund the best research and to remove those decisions from the political process."

The AAU added: "Our broader concern is this: that NSF will be pressured to fund only “safe” research that does not attract political attention; and that NSF peer reviewers will therefore reject potentially important but odd-sounding research proposals. Scientists and engineers, particularly young ones, should not be discouraged from pursuing unconventional, often groundbreaking scientific research – the kind that sometimes ends up winning Nobel Prizes and transforming science and society."

Republicans interested in taking control over the philosophy and funding of science projects may have to wait until President Barack Obama leaves office before making sweeping changes, MSNBC said.

"So long as President Obama is in the White House, it’s likely the NSF will be able to oversee research without too much Republican interference," wrote Steve Benen on the Maddow Blog. "But it’s clear that the broader GOP campaign against science hasn’t changed at all, and in the new Republican-dominated Congress, it’s likely to get worse."

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After midterm battles, an immigration standoff and amid a switch of power in Congress, the next political fight in Washington will likely be over science, Politico reports. Democrats are bracing for what they fear will be a Republican onslaught against everything from...
congress, partisan, war, science
521
2014-58-28
Friday, 28 November 2014 07:58 PM
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