May 22, 2014
House Science Committee Passes FIRST (almost)
In an incredibly partisan and late mark up, the House Science Committee finally finished considering the 27 proposed and debated amendments to the FIRST Act (HR 4186). Given the lengthy and contentious nature of the hearing, the roll call votes and final passage of the measure have been postponed until next week. Therefore, as of yet, the FIRST Act has not passed. The bill is expected to pass largely by party lines.
A list of amendments and 15 roll call votes can be found here.
Durring the mark up, Members did raise concern that the legislation as written would pass authorization levels for agencies like NSF that would be less than what Appropriators have already passed in the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill.
Before the markup, there was a significant opposition to the bill expressed by the science community. The National Science Board, which oversees NSF, took the largely unprecedented step in issuing a statement against the legislation because of the perceived Congressional intervention into which science has merit, rather than allowing NSF to continue peer review.
At this point, it is unclear if and when FIRST Act will pass out of Committee or if the FIRST Act will go to the House Floor.
The Office of Federal Relations will continue to track the progress of this legislation.