NSF Proposals Move Forward in House and Senate

May 2021

During the week of May 10, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held markups of their respective bills that would seek to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF).

On May 13, the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a markup hearing for the NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), a bipartisan bill from the chair and ranking members of the full committee and the subcommittee. The bill advanced on a voice vote.

The subcommittee considered several amendments that were adopted, including one introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) that would authorize $9 million for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics to implement a National Secure Data Service (NSDS). The Commission for Evidence-based Policymaking included a recommendation for an NSDS in its report to facilitate data linkages across federal agencies. AERA has endorsed the overall legislation.

“We are pleased to see the NSF for the Future Act move forward,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “This bill would provide a comprehensive NSF reauthorization that maintains NSF’s mission to support basic research, expand the role of the Education and Human Resources Directorate in furthering evidence across all levels of STEM education, and encourage data collection to further understand the experiences of women and LGBTQ+ populations in STEM.”

On May 12, the Senate Commerce Committee held a markup of the Endless Frontier Act (EFA), S. 1260, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN). The committee advanced the bill on a 24–4 vote. The bill has been incorporated into a substitute amendment introduced by Schumer that the Senate is currently considering, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.The broader bill also includes several provisions regarding competitiveness with China.

During the initial committee consideration, a substitute amendment from Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) included several new provisions. The legislation includes text from the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act. The language would authorize NSF to conduct research on experiences of gender and sexual harassment of people underrepresented in science and ways to mitigate harassment in the scientific workforce.

The Senate legislation also incorporates language from the Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act, which would authorize federal agencies, including NSF and the Department of Education, to provide flexibility to support research that has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the House and Senate legislation included $25 million overall for research relief due to COVID-19 disruption, the EFA version does not include an authorized funding level.

The EFA would also include language from the Supporting Early-Career Researchers Act (H.R. 144, S. 637) to authorize a pilot program within NSF for a grant program for early-career investigators. The House advanced this bill separately in a voice vote on May 18, along with several other NSF-related bills that have also been incorporated into EFA.

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