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House science chief unveils contentious vision for science

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 380-381
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6233.380

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Summary

Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX) has never hidden his desire to reshape federal research policy—often over the objections of much of the scientific community—since he became chair of the House of Representatives science committee 2 years ago. Smith doesn't have the authority to impose that vision on Congress, but his committee's oversight of several key scientific agencies makes it an important player in any debate on the topic. Last week he introduced legislation—H.R. 1806, called the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015—that lays out those plans in unprecedented detail for three agencies—the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's research activities, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, along with federal science education policy. The reaction was predictable: Although academic leaders say that some parts of the new, 189-page bill are better than previous versions, most believe it would still seriously damage the U.S. research enterprise.