U.S. Innovation and Competition Act - S.1260

Overview
Purpose
"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
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Summary of Selected Provisions
  • 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 Senate bill
Senate passed bill on vote of 68 to 32
06/09/2021
Bill introduced as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act
05/28/21
Relevant FYI Bulletins

Congress is on the cusp of approving historic legislation that would provide more than $50 billion to the semiconductor sector and lay out ambitious expansion plans for a set of federal science agencies.

Democratic leaders are narrowing their ambitions for Congress’ bipartisan innovation policy bill in a push to finish it in July, but many questions remain about what the final product will look like.

The House passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022 today on a nearly party-line vote that foreshadows challenges the House and Senate may face in crafting a compromise bill capable of passing both chambers.

The House has revealed its response to the landmark innovation policy package the Senate passed last year, a major step toward negotiating a compromise version. However, there are a host of thorny policy disagreements yet to be resolved.

The House-passed version of Congress' annual defense policy legislation includes a government-wide ban on federal research grantees participating in “malign” talent recruitment programs supported by China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The Senate has advanced a more expansive version of the restriction through separate legislation.

As part of its broader push on innovation legislation, the Senate is proposing to dramatically expand EPSCoR, a program that channels research funds to states that have historically received a small share of science agency funding. Counterpart House legislation does not recommend expanding the program, setting it up as an important point of negotiation.

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.