A bill from U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, championed by U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., “to make strategic, responsible investments in the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy’s research and technology programs to better compete with the Chinese Communist Party” is gaining traction on Capitol Hill.
Back at the end of March, Johnson introduced the “NSF for the Future Act” with Waltz as one of the original co-sponsors along with U.S. Reps. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Haley Stevens, D-Mich. This week, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, which Johnson chairs, passed the bill with no opposition.
The bill would double research funds for the NSF during the next five years “to develop the STEM workforce, advance innovative technologies, and protect American research from foreign theft to maintain America’s edge over China.”
“To fully realize the potential of science to benefit society, we must fund more research on the questions that matter to the American people,” said Johnson when she first introduced the bill. “Our competitiveness with China and other nations drives much of the national discourse around innovation because our economic and national security depend on our leadership in science and technology. However, competitiveness with China will not be possible if we do not unleash our nation’s STEM talent on the full range of challenges we face. Surely the COVID-19 pandemic has made that clear to all of us. And the fact is, researchers and students are inspired by finding solutions, whether they be to scientific or societal challenges. In this bill, we seek to inspire.”
Waltz successfully amended the bill on a host of matters, including helping crack down on Chinese espionage targeting intellectual property and having the NSF work closely with allies including Israel.
“Investments in science and technology truly are drivers of economic growth and are essential if we want to maintain an edge on our greatest adversary, the Chinese Communist Party,” Waltz said this week. “For decades, the United States has led the world in science and technology innovation but China is gaining on us in nearly every statistic. As we make these taxpayer investments, we must protect them from wholesale theft by the Chinese Communist Party. My policies will safeguard intellectual property by requiring training, putting more responsibility on grant recipients, and banning malign foreign talent programs.
“We cannot allow the CCP to advance its authoritarianism on the backs of American taxpayer-funded research,” Waltz added. “We must invest in research and technology if we want to strengthen our economy, maintain our global leadership in science and innovation, and compete with China.”
The bill is now headed to the House floor. However, there is no related bill over in the U.S. Senate.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org