House and Senate Advance NSF Reauthorization Legislation on Bipartisan Votes

July 2021

In June, the full House and Senate voted on legislation that would serve to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF). On June 28, the House passed the NSF for the Future Act, H.R. 2225, on a 345–67 vote. The full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee advanced the bill on June 15.

Prior to the House vote, the Senate advanced the Unites States Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) on a 68–32 vote on June 8. The USICA incorporates the language of the Endless Frontier Act, legislation championed by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). The overall USICA positions investments in research and development in several federal agencies to compete with China’s increased investment in its research programs.

As summarized in the May edition of AERA Highlights, the bills take different approaches to reauthorizing NSF, in their priorities and in their establishment of a new directorate within the agency. The NSF for the Future Act would include a Directorate on Science and Engineering Solutions that would include the application of use-inspired and translational research to address societal challenges at the discretion of the NSF director. The USICA would include a Directorate on Technology and Innovation that would support ten specified areas of technology in legislation.

In a statement released after the passage of the NSF for the Future Act, President Biden said, “I was pleased to see the Senate pass crucially important investments in our domestic strength through the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act with massive bipartisan support, and I’m heartened today to see the House pass similar bipartisan investments in R&D and science tonight. These pieces of legislation—and the agreement reached on the infrastructure framework last week—show the American people, and the world, that we’re capable of coming together as a country and setting aside our differences to make transformational investments that will strengthen us both at home and abroad.”