President Obama issued a veto threat to yet another Republican attempt to starve and deny science and science-based programs.
If put on his desk as is, the President will veto science-slayer Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)’s bill, H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, in part because it “would set an extremely harmful precedent of political interference in the scientific integrity of the regulation process”.
The Republican bill takes partisan aim at things like climate change research at the Department of Energy, so the reality based community would prefer it if Republicans like Congressman Smith kept his nose out of things he doesn’t understand or respect.
From the White House:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, which would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research. The Administration believes that H.R. 1806 would be damaging to the Administration’s actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.
The Administration strongly opposes the bill’s appropriation authorizations for the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that would establish maximum funding levels significantly below those provided in the President’s FY 2016 Budget. For example, H.R. 1806 would weaken investments in critical clean energy research and development and grid modernization by providing authorization levels at less than half of the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget for DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Additionally, the legislation would shortchange efforts to support fundamental research to address diverse and critical global challenges by providing an authorization level for the DOE Office of Science biological and environmental research program far short of the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 would also establish NSF authorizations levels for geosciences, education and human resources, international and integrative activities, and administrative activities well below the funding levels proposed in the President’s Budget, as well as an NSF authorization for social, behavioral, and economic sciences research that is 58 percent below the President’s Budget. Additionally, the legislation would undermine efforts to implement sound science and technology policies by providing an authorization level for OSTP nearly 20 percent below the President’s Budget.
In addition to its strong opposition to the authorized funding levels in H.R. 1806, the Administration has serious concerns with several other provisions in the bill and looks forward to working with the Congress to address its concerns. For example, the Administration opposes barring Federal regulatory authorities from relying on the results of certain Federally-supported research and development. This provision would set an extremely harmful precedent of political interference in the scientific integrity of the regulation process, which would undermine the value of the Federal research and development enterprise as a whole. The Administration also objects to the increased administrative burdens that the bill imposes on NSF and its awardees without commensurate benefit. In addition, the Administration opposes reducing oversight at the DOE National Laboratories, which would increase the exposure of the Federal Government to risk and liabilities while also conflicting with the execution of the DOE mission.
H.R. 1806 undermines key investments in science, technology, and innovation and imposes unnecessary and damaging requirements on Federal support of research. If the President were presented with H.R. 1806, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
Introduced on April 15, the Republican authorization of appropriations bill claims to “provide for technological innovation through the prioritization of Federal investment in basic research, fundamental scientific discovery, and development to improve the competitiveness of the United States, and for other purposes.”
Or, as Jeffrey Mervis and Adrian Cho of Science Magazine explained when Smith first introduced his bill:
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has never hidden his desire to reshape federal research policy— often over the objections of much of the scientific community—since he became chair of the House of Representatives science committee 2 years ago. Last week, he introduced legislation that lays out those plans in unprecedented detail, and the reaction was predictable. Although academic leaders say that some parts of the new, 189-page bill are better than previous versions, they believe it would seriously damage the U.S. research enterprise.
The bill not only sets out funding levels for several research agencies that in some cases depart sharply from those the Obama administration requested for 2016; it would also reshape key policies and priorities guiding those agencies.
Republicans are trying to kill science any way they can. On one hand they are busy denying science as a thing, favoring the childish notion of equating the opinion of financially invested parties with the opinion of experts and on the other, they are killing through defunding. Or, as they call it when running for office, “sustaining” a program by not outright murdering it, which would be bad press.
Republicans prefer to starve programs instead, so that when the program stops working due to lack of funds, Republicans can use that dysfunction to validate their ideology that government is unnecessary. This, of course, is a big win for big business, but a big loss for science and other reality based programs.
Luckily, President Obama is in the White House and can put a stop to this anti-science Republican nonsense.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.