Endless Frontier Act - H.R.2731 / S.1260

Overview
Purpose
"A bill to establish a new Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation, to establish a regional technology hub program, to require a strategy and report on economic security, science, research, innovation, manufacturing, and job creation, to establish a critical supply chain resiliency program, and for other purposes."
Primary Sponsors
Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) / Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN)
Summary of Selected Provisions

Selected provisions in Senate-passed bill

  • Appropriates $52.7 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing/R&D and $1.5 billion for advanced communications R&D
  • Creates a Directorate for Technology and Innovation in the National Science Foundation focused on a periodically refreshed list of up to 10 “key technology focus areas”
  • Recommends Congress provide the new NSF directorate with $29 billion over five years, with its annual budget ramping up from $1.8 billion to $9.3 billion, and increase the annual budget of the rest of NSF from the current level of $8.5 billion to $12 billion over the same period
  • Instructs the directorate to apportion its budget between technology development centers, “innovation institutes,” testbeds, lab-to-market initiatives, student and postdoc awards, other NSF directorates, and the EPSCoR program
  • Recommends Congress provide $17 billion to the Department of Energy and $17.5 billion to DARPA over five years to support complementary R&D
  • Creates a Commerce Department program to foster “technology hubs” in regions of the U.S. that are not already leading centers of innovation, with a recommended budget of $9.4 billion over five years
Actions
Actions on the House bill
Bill introduced
04/21/2021
Actions on the Senate bill
Senate passed amended bill on vote of 68 to 32
06/09/2021
As incorporated into the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act
Senate Commerce Committee approved amended bill on 24-4 vote
05/13/2021
Bill introduced
04/20/2021
Other versions
Relevant FYI Bulletins

The Senate passed a landmark competitiveness policy package this week containing the Endless Frontier Act proposal for a multi-billion-dollar technology R&D initiative. Key members of the House are now crafting a compromise proposal they regard as better-suited to existing agency strengths.

The Senate is considering major expansions to research security policy as part of debate on the Endless Frontier Act, including a proposal to empower the government to block universities from accepting certain foreign gifts and contracts.

The Endless Frontier Act is headed to the Senate floor next week despite an unresolved feud over the roles the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy should play in the flagship R&D initiative the legislation proposes.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) is pressing for the technology competitiveness legislation that Congress is currently developing to incorporate innovation capabilities offered by the Department of Energy and its national labs.

Sponsors of the Endless Frontier Act have delayed reintroducing the bill amid pushback from some senators, including leaders of key committees, who held hearings this week to debate the legislation’s vision for transforming the U.S. research system.

The House Science Committee has introduced a bill proposing to double the National Science Foundation budget over five years and add a directorate to the agency focused on “societal challenges.” The committee views the bill as an alternative to the Endless Frontier Act, which proposes appending a massive technology-focused directorate to NSF.

As congressional Democrats assemble legislative packages for ambitious R&D, manufacturing, and infrastructure initiatives, leading research community figures are seeking to shape a fast-moving proposal to restructure the National Science Foundation.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said yesterday the Senate is preparing major competitiveness policy legislation centered around his Endless Frontier Act, which proposes to reconfigure the National Science Foundation. He also said the package could include emergency funding for a new semiconductor chip manufacturing initiative.

The National Science Foundation would get a massive new technology directorate, and a new name, under a bipartisan bill unveiled this week that envisions pumping $100 billion into the agency over five years.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke yesterday about a draft proposal to create a “National Science and Technology Foundation” that would spend $100 billion over five years on research related to technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and 5G telecommunications.