The Senate version of tax cut legislation did not contain this provision.
The impact of this provision to the U.S. science workforce—particularly space sciences—would have been highly negative. It would have discouraged vast numbers of students from pursuing critical academic studies in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, all of which are necessary for the United States to remain competitive on the global stage. It also would have disproportionately affected first-generation graduate students and those with lesser financial means from pursuing advanced studies. No country can afford let its intellectual capital lay fallow, we must work to engage as many students as possible into these fields required by advanced industry, scientific, and national defense areas.
In addition to joining 67 other scientific societies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in calling for congress to reject this provision, The Planetary Society made a number of visits to key Republican Senate offices to discourage them from pursuing this tax provision in their compromise legislation with the House. We found these meetings to be productive, with a strong dialogue and open exchange of ideas. It was another example of how space (or the cosmic perspective, perhaps?) can still bring people together in a bipartisan fashion.