House Leadership Unveils America COMPETES Act

January 2022

On January 25, the House announced the introduction of the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022. The legislation incorporates many of the proposals that the House passed during the past year related to science, innovation, and competitiveness. The America COMPETES Act is intended to be negotiated in conference committee with the Senate, which earlier passed a similar legislation, the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). A full summary of the provisions in America COMPETES is available here.

The America COMPETES Act includes several provisions developed by the House Science Committee for the National Science Foundation (NSF) that the House advanced last year. Most notably, the NSF for the Future Act, which would reauthorize NSF, is part of the package. Some of the key provisions of the NSF for the Future Act, HR 2225, are summarized in a March 2021 Highlights story. AERA has endorsed this bill.

Two other bills that AERA supports, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act and the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act, are also included in the overall America COMPETES Act. Both of these bills are also in the Senate USICA legislation. The America COMPETES Act does not include the language in the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act that is in USICA to authorize federal science agencies to provide supplemental funding to research grantees whose work is disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The America COMPETES Act also includes legislation that would establish programs in STEM education within the Department of Education, which are also included in the Senate USICA bill. The bill authorizes postsecondary STEM pathways grants with the aim of ensuring equitable access to advanced STEM coursework in K–12 education. As part of this program, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) would be responsible for evaluating the success of grants, particularly for postsecondary outcomes such as the number of students enrolled in and receiving credentials in a STEM field and changes in access and rigor to STEM coursework by school districts. The bill also authorizes a program to expand access to K–12 computer science education in coordination with NSF. IES would be tasked with evaluating the program’s effectiveness in expanding access to computer science coursework; improving computational thinking; and diversifying, supporting, and expanding the computer science teacher pipeline.

“We appreciate the work of House leadership in introducing the America COMPETES Act and the attention to including several bills that would enhance the U.S. scientific enterprise, including the NSF for the Future Act,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “We look forward to seeing the progress of House and Senate leadership in advancing strong legislation to invest in the nation’s research and development, support STEM education, and forge innovation.”

In November 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that a conference committee would be formed to negotiate a final version of USICA. The House is expected to vote soon on the full America COMPETES package, which would then start the conference process with the Senate USICA bill.