House Republicans launched an attack on the National Science Foundation this week, following Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's successful push last month to strip college political science departments of NSF funding.
Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science Committee, has drafted a bill that would restrict the NSF from issuing grants to projects that did not “advance the national health, prosperity or welfare” or “secure the national defense.” This language closely mirrors language in Coburn's amendment to a Senate appropriations bill that required any political science research funded by NSF grants to "[promote] national security or the economic interests of the United States."
The legislation could give climate change deniers and Creationists the power to weigh in on the merits and possible applications of research projects conducted under rigorous academic standards.
Democrats and scientists have already responded harshly to Smith's proposed legislation. Democratic Texas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson sent a scathing letter accusing Smith of taking steps to "destroy the merit-based review process at NSF," by inserting himself into the review process, calling his actions "the antithesis of the peer review process."
Watch host Melissa Harris-Perry and science education activist Zack Kopplin discuss Smith's bill and more on the May 4 edition of "Melissa Harris-Perry." Video below: