Trump’s pick for the Office of Management and Budget questions why the government funds science

Holding the purse strings

Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney

Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)Gage Skidmore

The Office of Managment and Budget might seem like a less prominent position than, for example, the head of the EPA or the Department of Energy, but it's a vitally important job.

From the OMB's website:

The core mission of OMB is to serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive Branch. OMB is the largest component of the Executive Office of the President. It reports directly to the President and helps a wide range of executive departments and agencies across the Federal Government to implement the commitments and priorities of the President.

- OMB’s website

The person that takes the job will have a significant impact on budgets throughout the federal government, so it’s worth learning more about their views. President-elect Donald Trump's pick is Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, and he doesn’t really see the need for government-funded science research.

In a now cached Facebook post from September, when a debate was raging in Congress as to whether or not we should fund research into Zika Mulvaney writes:

“I have received all sorts of emails and FB comments this week on Zika. Some people want me to pass a "clean" bill (which I suppose means not paying for it with spending reductions elsewhere). Other folks want us to fund more research if we can find a way to pay for it. No one has written me yet, though, to ask what might be the best question: do we really need government-funded research at all.”

- Facebook

He goes on to suggest that because a preliminary study found no wave of birth defects linked to Zika infections in Columbia, government funded research into Zika and its link to birth defects might not be necessary.

As Julia Belluz points out at Vox, the research that Mulvaney cited was supplanted months later by another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which showed that there was a link between Zika and birth defects in the United States. The data in both studies was gathered by researchers from around the country and the world, including federally-funded researchers from the CDC.

Research—and the federal money to fund it—was needed to adequately inform pregnant women in the U.S. about a disease that remains stubbornly mysterious, is spreading across the world, and for which there is currently no cure or approved vaccine.

Though Mulvaney has not yet been confirmed, his appointment and his own words can give the public an idea of “the commitments and priorities of the President.”

Questioning whether science research should be funded isn't a new viewpoint for the incoming administration. Other plans espousing similar theories have been floated, including a suggestion to cut climate change research at NASA.