What: All Issues : Education, Humanities, & the Arts : General Education Funding : Reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (H.R. 1867)/Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) amendment to establish a program to help communicate NSF research results to the public (2007 house Roll Call 293)
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Reauthorization of the National Science Foundation (H.R. 1867)/Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) amendment to establish a program to help communicate NSF research results to the public
house Roll Call 293     May 02, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to legislation reauthorizing the National Science Foundation (NSF), a large federal grant-making agency, at $21 billion through fiscal 2010. Proposed by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), the amendment would direct NSA to provide grant supplements to institutions that receive awards through the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program. The supplemental funding would be used to train graduate students in communicating their research to "non-scientist audiences."

"I believe this proposal will ensure that we are getting as much return on the Federal Government's investment in the National Science Foundation as possible," Matsui said. "By implementing this program, it would diversify the education of our scientists and would ensure that policymakers and other nonscientists have better access to the technical expertise fostered by NSF and the nation's broader research enterprise, because if scientists can't tell the rest of us what they have discovered, we are not fully recognizing the benefits of our investment in scientific research."

Matsui said her proposal would "create a pipeline of scientists who are increasingly engaged with nonscientists, including policymakers, business leaders and others."

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) said he rose to oppose Matsui's amendment "with some reluctance" because he supported her underlying goal.

Ehlers, who has been a consistent advocate for increased funding for NSF, said he was first concerned that Matsui's amendment would cut into an already tight budget for the agency. "But my major objection is, I have taught at the university level and have taught at the college level," Ehlers said. "I have always felt this is the responsibility of the colleges and universities to do, and they shouldn't need an NSF grant to do this."

Despite Ehlers' objection, Matsui's amendment was easily adopted. Twelve Republicans crossed party lines to support it, while six Democrats broke ranks in opposition. Thus, on a vote of 232 to 186, the House adopted a proposal to require the National Science Foundation to institute a program to help communicate NSF research results to lay audiences, and legislation reauthorizing the agency for the next three years went forward with the provision.

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