Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Obama Defends US Science from Partisan Attack: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Obama Defends US Science from Partisan Attack: News

Article excerpt

President Barack Obama has vowed to protect scientific research from "political manoeuvres" in the wake of continuing attempts by Republican congressmen to restrict National Science Foundation funding for social science.

Last week, the journal Science's Science Insider website reported that the chair of the House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, had drafted legislation requiring the NSF to certify that every grant it awards advances health, prosperity, welfare or national defence.

The draft, known as the High Quality Research Act, would also require funded research to be "groundbreaking" and to answer questions "that are of utmost importance to society at large".

Critics see this as the latest Republican attack on public funding for social science research.

In February, House majority leader Eric Cantor said that public funds for social science "would be better spent helping find cures to diseases". This was followed by Oklahoma Republican senator Tom Coburn's successful introduction into a March spending bill of a temporary prohibition on NSF funding for political science research unless it promotes US national security or "economic interests". …

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