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Science Down the Ballot

Down the ballot, there are other political races besides the presidential race in the US that may have ramifications for science and science funding, Nature News reports.

In addition to the presidential election, the entire House of Representatives and about a third of the Senate are up for re-election. While the overall balance of Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Congress will influence whether the new president's policies are easily adopted or are hard to pass, Nature News notes that less high-profile races and ballot initiatives "are set to change the political landscape for US science agencies in subtler ways."

For instance, in Maryland, Barbara Mikulski is retiring, and she was the highest-ranked Democrat on the Senate Appropriations committee, which oversees spending, and was on the subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nature News notes that Mikulski fought for increased science funding, and though it adds that Mikulski is likely to be replaced by a member of the same party, the new lawmaker won't get her appointments or have her seniority.

As for ballot measures, one initiative in Montana is seeking approval to establish a biomedical research authority that would provide up to $200 million in grants over 10 years brain disease, brain injury, and mental illness studies, and another in Washington State is pursuing approval for a carbon tax.