The How, and Who, of Federal Social Science Funding


Donald Trump’s surprise victory of the White House along with Republicans holding onto control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate has left many, at time furiously, attempting to imagine a post-Barack Obama government. Former president was a staunch supporter of social sciences, and made it apparent that he would invest in such programs for researchers, scientists, and students. President Trump’s rhetoric and actions on science have left the science community wondering what is in store from the federal government. One thing to watch as Trump beings his term as the 45th president is the budget he will submit to Congress early this year, including potential funding of the sciences. Take a look at the following graphic to get an idea of how this process plays out.

Who sits on these committees?

Texas has a disproportionate influence on how the United States government will deal with science funding in the 115th Congress, with three key committees and one key ranking member from the Lon Star State. As he has since 2013, Texas Republican Lamar Smith will again chair the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Since the House originates spending bills, and this committee authorizes budgets for the National Science Foundation, this is arguably the most important legislative panel that affects social and behavioral science.

The committee includes 22 Republicans and nine Democrats, with Frank Lucas of Oklahoma the committee’s vice chair. By comparison, there are 240 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House as a whole (with two seats currently vacant).

The remaining GOP members of the science committee, in order of seniority, are Dana Rohrabacher of California; Mo Brooks, Alabama; Randy Hultgren, Illinois; Bill Posey, Florida; Thomas Massie, Kentucky; Jim Bridenstine, Oklahoma; Randy Weber, Texas; Steve Knight, California; Brian Babin, Texas; Barbara Comstock, Virginia; Gary Palmer, Alabama; Barry Loudermilk, Georgia; and Ralph Abraham, Louisiana; Darin LaHood, Illinois; plus new members Daniel Webster, Florida; Jim Banks, Indiana; Andy Biggs, Arizona; Roger Marshall, Kansas; Neal Dunn, Florida; and Clay Higgins, Louisiana.

Democrats on the panel are led by Eddie Bernice Johnson,also of Texas. The balance of the committee includes Zoe Lofgren of California; Daniel Lipinski, Illinois; Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon;
Ami Bera, California; Elizabeth Esty, Connecticut; Marc Veasey, Texas; Donald Beyer, Virginia; and Jacky Rosen, Nevada.

In the science committee, a subcommittee on research and technology has specific oversight for the NSF. The lower panel is chaired by Comstock, with Abraham as vice chair. Republican members are Lucas, Hultgren, Knight, LaHood and Webster, plus freshmen members Banks and Marshall.

Meanwhile, another committee, the House Committee on Appropriations, actually sets aside the money that authorizing committees call for. In that committee, the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee oversees NSF funding. The committee is headed by Republican John Culberson of Texas. Other Republicans on the panel are Hal Rogers, Kentucky; Robert Aderholt, Alabama; John Carter, Texas; Martha Roby, Alabama; Steven Palazzo, Mississippi; and Evan Jenkins, West Virginia. Democrats are led by José Serrano of New York, and include Derek Kilmer, Washington; Matt Cartwright, Pennsylvania; and Grace Meng, New York.

In the Senate, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation oversees the NSF, with a subcommittee on Space, Science and Competiveness specifically charged with that. The full committee is headed by John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, with the ranking minority member Bill Nelson of Florida.

The subcommittee is chaired by Ted Cruz of Texas, with the remaining majority party members Mike Lee of Utah; Cory Gardner, Colorado; Jerry Moran, Kansas; Dan Sullivan, Alaska; Ron Johnson, Wisconsin; and Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia. Democrats are led by Gary Peters of Michigan and include Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts; Cory Booker, New Jersey; Tom Udall, New Mexico; and Brian Schatz, Hawaii.


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