On Monday, June 28 the House passed two bipartisan bills that seek to enhance scientific competitiveness against China.
The legislation passed the House vote handily with welcoming lawmakers from both parties. One of the bills was the Future Act HR2225 which was passed with 345-67 votes, and the other measure was the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act, HR3593, which received 351-68 approval.
The formation of them was to bolster scientific development in the race to rival China.
“The United States has long been a beacon of excellence in science and engineering,” said House Science Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) in a statement. “While we should be cognizant of our increasing global competition, we must not be constrained by it. To continue to lead, we must chart our own course.”
Thanks to the legislation, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will enjoy a greater amount of funding, which can be expected to increase by seven percent per year.
“We must significantly boost funding for science. For years, we have allowed millions of dollars of excellent research [to] go unfunded,” Johnson added.
Following the agenda of the bills, the task of advancing scientific edge for the United States will include attention on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education (STEM) education and professional development to help with recruitment in those fields.
In contrast to their Senate version, which was passed on June 8, these House bills convey a provision from the republicans which will bar applicants from talent programs linked to rival governments, namely China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran.
“It is critical that we strike the correct balance between keeping our research enterprise open but also from protecting it from adversaries who seek to take advantage of our open system,” said Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), according to The Hill.
If enacted, one of the forbidden programs to exemplify will be the Chinese regime’s Thousand Talents Program, which the U.S. government has investigated for posing threats to national security.
According to investigators in 2020, the Beijing-based Thousand Talents Program introduced in 2008 recruited international experts with extravagant grants and via them found its way to steal sensitive technology from international governments.
The Senate version of the legislation, the “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act,” or USICA, offered to fund the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration and promised to impose diplomatic pressure on China. It is expected that the House bills may be reconciled later when they reached the upper chamber.
“My Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the House and the Senate in producing a final bill I can sign,” said President Joe Biden in a statement applauding the passage of the House legislation.
“Decades of neglect and disinvestment have left us at a competitive disadvantage as countries across the globe, like China, have poured money and focus into new technologies and industries, leaving us at real risk of being left behind,” Biden noted, praising the investments.