In pro forma session, the House of Representatives approved the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) under unanimous consent, sending it to President Barack Obama for signature on December 16. The Senate earlier voted to advance the bill, which establishes policy for science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), under unanimous consent on December 10.
The passage of AICA demonstrates bipartisan collaboration to support science policy that encourages innovation. AERA provided comments to the lead co-sponsors of AICA, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), as they drafted the bill. Of particular interest to education researchers, the bill maximizes research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, and enhances diversity in STEM fields.
AICA provides a one-year, as opposed to a more typical multi-year, reauthorization of NSF. Thus, the next Congress will likely introduce new legislation to once again reauthorize NSF.
Commenting on the final legislation, AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine said, “The broad scientific community was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief that the final legislation did not include language to cut funding for specific disciplines or directorates at the NSF. Science and the discovery process are interconnected activities, and it simply makes no sense in the 21st century to balkanize funding support.”