Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee leaders staked out key coverage positions right now on proposed laws that may vastly broaden the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) expertise analysis funding portfolio.

The proposed laws – which has but to be formally launched within the present session of Congress – will probably be an up to date model of the Endless Frontiers Act debuted within the House and Senate final yr with bipartisan help.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated in February he plans to introduce the invoice so as to “out-compete China” as a worldwide tech chief and create new American jobs within the tech business.

The invoice debuted by Sen. Schumer final yr would have expanded the National Science Foundation (NSF), renamed it the National Science and Technology Foundation (NTSF), and established a expertise directorate inside NTSF to deal with  $100 billion of funding over 5 years for analysis in AI and machine studying, high-performance computing, robotics, automation, superior manufacturing, and different key applied sciences.

“I want this bill to address America’s short-term and long-term plan, which is protect the semiconductor supply chain, and to keep us number one in things like AI, 5G, quantum computing, biomedical research, storage – all of these things are part of the bill and the Endless Frontiers Act,” Schumer stated on Feb. 23.

Both Senate Commerce Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and rating member Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., expressed normal help for NSF analysis features at right now’s committee listening to, but additionally aired some issues.

The invoice, Sen. Cantwell stated, “is still being worked on by our colleagues, but nonetheless, is the stimulus for a very big debate about America’s competitiveness as it relates to research and development.”

She stated that Federally-funded analysis between 1996 and 2015 had produced greater than $1 trillion in financial development, and “millions of new jobs.” By distinction, she stated, Federal investments in analysis and improvement are at their lowest level in 45 years as measured towards Gross Domestic Product, and have been flat for twenty years when adjusted for inflation.

“This comes as international competition is increasing, and other nations are ready to challenge our position on the world’s innovation stage,” the senator added. “I think one of the fundamental questions for us is what our committee can do to bolster” the boldness of congressional appropriators to again elevated Federal investments envisioned by the approaching laws. Sen. Cantwell additionally stated she was excited by addressing additional investments within the STEM workforce.

Sen. Wicker, talking to the “concept” of an Endless Frontiers invoice, stated he endorsed a “strong innovation ecosystem” that features authorities, academia, and the personal sector.

But he supplied some notes of warning to the anticipated scope of Sen. Schumer’s coming invoice, saying {that a} main growth of NSF “should not detract from the agency’s core mission of advancing basic scientific knowledge.”

Sen. Wicker stated Congress additionally ought to “ensure that we avoid duplicating R&D missions of other Federal agencies – dozens of which invest in basic and applied research and technology development . . . Whatever we enact should contain sufficient guardrails to protect the NSF core mission and coordinate properly with other departments and agencies.”

He additionally cautioned towards making an attempt to beat China “by copying” that nation’s technique of reaching tech dominance.

“China is betting that an ambitious, top-down program of applied research and investment along with subsidies for technology companies will produce global dominance in key technology areas, yielding both civil and military uses,” the senator stated. “Strategic investments in technologies and supply chains are important, but we will not win by simply throwing money at the problem, we could actually end up doing harm if recipients of funding through this concept lack the capacity and capability to conduct R&D activities that are actually useful.”

He additional questioned the approaching invoice’s lack of safety provisions, saying, “we also need to guard the fruits of our R&D system by preventing China from stealing American research and technology. So far as I can tell, the proposed bill does not include any provisions to bolster research, security, and integrity, particularly at our universities, so we are going to need to address that.”

Finally, Wicker criticized present Federal analysis funding which he stated distributes half of all such funding inside solely six states. “Unfortunately, this uneven distribution has changed little over the decades,” the senator stated. “Since we have not actually seen complete bill language, it is not clear to me that the Endless Frontier act will go far enough to change this paradigm.”


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