Who Killed Political Science?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 21 2013 8:43 PM

Who Killed Political Science?

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U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) speaks to a journalist at the U.S. Capitol September 19, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Kevin Drum writes about an amendment to the continuing resolution that wasn't played up in early coverage of the debate. Sen. Tom Coburn frequently tried to use spending bills to nix government funding for political science research. Previous versions of his amendment had wiped out all poli sci funding, and these versions had failed. But this version prohibited only the funding for programs that did not affect "national security or the economic interests of the United States." It passed.

"We ran into an arcane parliamentarian problem that arose from shifting the money from NSF and to cancer research," explains John Hart, a Coburn spokesman. "So we left it in NSF with restrictions."

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The new amendment, which passed via a voice vote, saved $13 million. It return, it might cripple the American National Election Study. Having spent a considerable amount of time covering the CR vote, I saw multiple concessions made to Republicans in exchange for moving the whole bill, preventing a shutdown, and eventually getting the budget process back to regular order. So why did poli sci fall into the "expendable" column?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.