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With Strings

A US House of Representatives spending panel has approved a flat budget for the National Science Foundation, ScienceInsider reports.

"We've protected the National Science Foundation because we understand that funding basic research is essential to the nation," says Representative John Culberson (R-TX), the chair of the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations subcommittee. 

However, ScienceInsider adds that while lawmakers rejected a proposal from the Trump Administration to cut $672 million from the budget of the agency's six research directorates, they did include a report detailing how NSF should spend the funds it receives. In particular, Culberson and his committee tell the agency it can't spend less on research infrastructure next year and it can't cut the budget of the agency's astronomy division.

"Those instructions will give NSF less flexibility to redistribute funding to meet its priorities," ScienceInsider says.

It notes that NSF Director France Córdova has also been fending off push by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) to refocus the agency onto physical, computing, engineering, and biological sciences, rather than on social and behavioral sciences or climate change-linked research. The appropriations subcommittee appears to hark back to Smith's efforts to determine funding for each of NSF's directorates individually, ScienceInsider adds.

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