The National Science Foundation came into existence after World War II with the realization that advances in science were essential to defense and to expansion of the economy and that federal funding was needed to promote scientific research. Creation of the NSF assured that in the second half of the twentieth century the United States led the world in scientific discovery.
Lamar Smith, a Republican Congressman from Texas, chairman of the House Science Committee, is preparing to introduce legislation that would require the head of NSF to certify on the agenciy's website that each grant being funded would undertake research
in the interests of the United States to advance the national health, prosperity, or welfare, and to secure the national defense by promoting the progress of science; is the finest quality, is ground breaking, and answers questions or solves problems that are of utmost importance to society at large; and is not duplicative of other research projects being funded by the Foundation or other Federal science agencies.
This would allow politicians and the public to raise objections to particular grants and would add a political review process over the peer review process now in place. The real goal here is to prevent research in areas conservative politicians do not like. For example, since 1996 the CDC has been prohibited from doing research on gun violence and gun control and the funds it used for that purpose were taken out of its budget.
Smith, a lawyer by profession, is a Christian Scientist, a former business and financial affairs writer for the Christian Science Monitor, and his wife is a Christian Science practitioner.
Is there a way to protest this bill?
It has not yet been formally introduced, but when it is, it will have to be considered by the committee which Smith chairs. It seems doubtful it will pass that committee, but if it does and it goes to the floor for a vote, then it will help to e-mail your congressman against it.
The ranking Democrat on the committee has written to Smith about his proposals: