ACTION ALERT: Amendments Threaten FY 2018 Funding for Social Science at NSF, Census, and Institute of Education Sciences

Update 9/14/17: The FY 2018 omnibus bill was passed by the House on September 14. The Comstock amendment affecting Census and the Rooney amendment targeting IES were never brought to a vote and so did not pass. Unfortunately, the Smith amendment reallocating money within NSF did pass. The Senate has yet to pass FY 2018 spending bills. COSSA will work to keep problematic amendments out of any legislation passed by the Senate and to ensure that NSF and other science agencies are protected in eventual conference committee negotiations. We will reach back out to our advocates if any future opportunities arise for action. We deeply appreciate all of the advocates who took time to contact their Members of Congress in support of social and behavioral science.

Update 9/8/17: The House adjourned on September 7 before voting on any of the damaging amendments below. We expect them to return to H.R. 3544 sometime next week, which means there is still time to call your Representative and convince them to oppose these harmful amendments. Thank you for taking action in support of social science!

September 7, 2017

Today the House is considering H.R. 3354, an appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2018 that includes funding for the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation, among others. COSSA has learned of three amendments that present a threat to the social and behavioral sciences—one which picks winners and losers among scientific disciplines at NSF, one which uses the already-underfunded Census as a piggy bank to fund other initiatives, and a third that cuts much-needed funding from the Institute of Education Sciences. We are asking you to call your House Representative TODAY and tell them to vote NO on these three amendments. The House will be considering some of these amendments this afternoon, so your action is needed quickly. More details and talking points on each are below.

Find your House Member by entering your address here. To reach your Representative, you can call the House of Representatives switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or look up their number in the House Directory. Feel free to consult COSSA’s Advocacy Handbook for tips on how to contact your Member of Congress.

Thank you very much for your quick action on this important issue. Please feel free to circulate this alert widely.


Proposed Amendments to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018

Amendment Targeting the National Science Foundation (Amendment #150)

Sponsor: Lamar Smith (R-TX)

The amendment would increase NSF research funding in the physical and biological sciences at the expense of NSF’s other research directorates (including the Social, Behavioral, Economics Sciences Directorate)

Talking points:

  • This amendment rejects the long-standing practice of allowing NSF to determine how to allocate its research dollars based on the best available science.
  • NSF prioritizes research investments based on the advice of its own technical experts, world-renown and highly regarded merit review process, and countless scholars housed at universities and laboratories across the country.
  • This amendment would institute a level of “political review” over NSF’s decision-making process and pit scientific disciplines against one another by picking winners and losers, discouraging interdisciplinary science.

Amendment Targeting Census Bureau Funding (Amendment #105)

Sponsor: Barbara Comstock (R-VA)

Co-Sponsors: Lou Barletta (R-PA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Ann Kuster (D-NH), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

The amendment would transfer $30 million from the Census Periodic Censuses and Programs (which includes the 2020 Decennial Census) account to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

Talking points:

  • The allocation for the Census Bureau already is too low. House appropriators have recognized the challenge and are waiting on an updated cost estimate from the administration. Consequences of underfunding this year and an insufficient budget request for 2018 have undermined rigorous final testing and timely early preparations for the 2020 Census. For example, there is NO funding for the vital “partnership program” in 2018 that will connect the Census Bureau with state and local governments for the 2020 Census, and the critical 2018 “dress rehearsal” has been cut from three sites to one, leaving no opportunity to test census operations in rural communities before 2020. Cutting the Census Bureau’s budget further will threaten a successful census in all states and communities.
  • We know that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program is an important resource in many communities. But the 2020 Census cannot afford to lose any more funding without putting a cost-effective and accurate census at risk in every district and community. Census costs will go up, and accuracy will go down. We hope lawmakers can find an alternative offset to achieve the goal of the Comstock census amendment.

Amendment Targeting the Institute of Education Sciences (#73)

Sponsor: Francis Rooney (R-FL)

The amendment would cut the funding of Institute of Education Sciences by $195 million (32% of the FY 2017 enacted level).

Talking points:

  • The Institute of Education Sciences provides critical statistics, research, and evaluation that improve education policy and practice and has led to breakthroughs in early interventions that improve educational outcomes for children.
  • IES is independent and non-partisan, and its mission is to provide scientific evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to share this information with educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.
  • This amendment would seriously inhibit IES’ ability to support field-initiated research grants that work with students and teachers across the country to ask new and important questions about how to improve education.
  • This amendment does not cut IES to offset another cost, but suggests cutting this small-yet-critical program to decrease the federal budget as a whole. This amount of money will make little to no impact on the federal deficit and this amendment has been met with criticism by education leaders in Mr. Rooney’s own party.