Earlier today, Henry posted on an amendment by Jeff Flake to the Commerce, State, and Science appropriations bill that would cut National Science Foundation funding for political science. As it turns out, the House voted on this amendment late last night and it was defeated 121-291. The roll call is available here if you want to check how your representative voted. All 179 Democrats opposed the Flake amendment while Republicans split 121-112. Unlike the infamous Coburn amendment in the Senate in October 2009, Flake’s amendment was (described as) a broad-based $1.25B reduction in NSF funding, sending the agency budget back to (pre-Obama) FY 2008 levels. Read the brief debate here–scan for “Flake”.
So, the good news is that even a Tea-Party tinged House in the midst of a huge budget shortfall realizes that the NSF plays a vital role in our society. On the other hand, it is not clear what the margin would be for an amendment targeted at political science. As research on the Coburn amendment vote by my colleagues Casey Klofstad and Joe Uscinski shows, the margin was closer on the Coburn amendment vote and influenced by the distribution of top 50 Ph.D. programs in political science and whether a senator was a political science major in Congress. So, grade cautiously…today’s “C” student may be voting on NSF funding someday!
UPDATED UPDATE: Brian Humes, Program Director for Political Science at NSF, cautions that the amendment described above may not be the only Flake amendment. There may be a second amendment targeted at political science once the bill is open to limiting amendments (as Jim suggests below). So, go ahead and contact your representative!