If Congress has its way, the next round of grants by the National
Science Foundation, a hallmark of government funding for graduate
students and scientists, will no longer be based on scientific merit.
Proposals will not be reviewed by panels of preeminent scholars across
the United States, as they have been for more than a half-century.
Instead, they would all be “in the national interest,” with strict new
rules adopted earlier this month by a Republican House committee. More, the foundation would be stripped of its control
of its $7.3 billion budget. Congress has told the foundation exactly
how much money to allocate to specified areas of research.
Funding in social sciences and economics, for example, would be cut in
half to $150 million. Climate-change studies, including crucial research
in the Arctic, would be cut 8 to 12 percent. And, despite House claims
that the U.S. must beef up its science, technology, engineering and math
education workforce, the foundation education budget stands to be cut
by 10 percent...