Source: HR 3293
Congressional Summary: Scientific Research in the National Interest Act: This bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award federal funding for basic research and education in the sciences only if the grant promotes the progress of science in the United States, is worthy of federal funding, and is in the national interest.
Support on GovTrack.us: Lead sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX-21)--chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee--noted the millions of dollars the NSF has doled out for purposes he considers less than worthwhile. In particular, he cited a few examples he considered particularly egregious, including:
$700,000 to support a climate change-themed musical
$487,000 to study the Icelandic textile industry during the Viking era
$516,000 to help amateurs create a video game to 'Relive Prom Night'
Opposition on GovTrack.us: The Science Committee's ranking member,
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) called the bill anti-science. She wrote, "Most Members of Congress lack the relevant expertise to fairly evaluate the merits of any particular grant. If we do not trust the Nation's scientific experts to make that judgement, then who are we to trust?" Johnson also noted that the NSF already has a rigorous review process, only funding about 1/5 of grant proposals.
White House Opposition: Contrary to its stated purpose, [HR.3293] would add nothing to accountability in Federal funding for scientific research, while needlessly adding to bureaucratic burdens and overhead at the NSF. It would replace the clarity of the [current rules implemented in] 1950, with confusing language that could cast a shadow over the value of basic research.
Legislative outcome: Passed House 236-178-26 (roll call 70, CR H684) on 2/11/16; bill died in Senate committee. The White House had threatened to veto the bill if it passed the Senate.
Participating counts on VoteMatch question 15.
Question 15: Expand the military
Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
Headline: Award research grants based on national interest
Headline 2: Let NSF decide research grants, not Congress
Headline 3: Sponsored bill to base research grants on national interest