WASHINGTON, D.C.—Professional scientific societies are dismayed that an amendment to rescind funding for five peer-reviewed National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants was defeated on the House floor by only two votes last week. The proposed amendment, authored by Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.), was introduced July 10 during floor debate on the House fiscal year (FY) 2004 appropriations bill (HR 2660), which includes funding for NIH.

The amendment would have defunded research for four NIH grants studying human sexual behavior and one grant investigating human linkages with a panda reserve in China. The measure was defeated 210 to 212.

Howard J. Silver, executive director for the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), a Washington, D.C.–based advocacy group representing more than 100 professional organizations in the social sciences, was surprised and worried that the amendment had gathered so many affirmative votes.

"It's a little precarious," he said. "You've got a situation...

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