Last week the House passed two bills which would establish new basic energy research initiatives at the Department of Energy, as well as a bill which would update policies for certain NIST programs and direct a comprehensive National Academies review of NIST laboratories.
Today, the Senate Commerce Committee approved the "American Innovation and Competitiveness Act" after amending it to authorize a four percent funding increase for NSF and NIST. However, a push to identify offsets for these increases may delay or derail passage of the bill by the Senate.
The Senate’s bipartisan bill, released today, differs significantly from the House-passed America COMPETES bill, dropping the COMPETES name altogether and striking a different tone on scientific merit review.
Following the president’s request for a 5.2 percent funding increase for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in fiscal year 2017, the House and Senate proposals are a field apart. The House is proposing a 10.3 percent overall cut but would spare laboratory research, while the Senate would provide a slight 1.0 percent increase.
After commending retiring vice chairwoman Barbara Mikulski for her years of effective service, Senate appropriations committee members unanimously approved a bill which would provide close to flat funding for NASA, NSF, NIST, and NOAA in fiscal year 2017.
Representatives from both sides of the aisle offered varying levels of praise for the standards science and technology agency, although the chairman criticized the proposed funding source for expanding the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and highlighted the committee’s continuing investigations following the discovery of a meth lab at the agency last year.
The President is requesting a 5.2 percent increase in discretionary funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology for fiscal year 2017, which would raise its budget to just over $1 billion. The President also is proposing $1.99 billion in new mandatory funding, of which $1.89 billion is for 27 new manufacturing innovation institutes by 2025.
The annual spending law for FY 2016 increases spending at the National Institute of Standards and Technology by 11.6 percent over FY 2015 levels and provides direction on matters including research into disaster resilient buildings, advanced photonics, the Materials Genome Initiative, and quantum measurements.
Senators Cory Gardner and Gary Peters, in charge of drafting the Senate version of the America COMPETES bill, are seeking further input from the science community on STEM education/workforce issues and research commercialization and technology transfer,
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation announced plans yesterday to develop a reauthorization bill for the America COMPETES Act. In contrast to counterpart legislation written by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the announcement discussed the Senate committee’s intention that “seeks a bipartisan path” in crafting the legislation, and is actively requesting input from “members of the public and interested groups.”