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Lucas Statement on NSF for the Future Act at Full Committee Markup

Jun 15, 2021
Opening Statement

Thank you, Chairwoman Johnson. This amendment strikes and replaces the text of H.R. 2225, the NSF for the Future Act, to incorporate stakeholder feedback on the underlying bill, add bipartisan Member priorities, and make technical changes to the text. I’d like to thank the Chairwoman and her staff for working with us to get these changes finalized.

As I said in my opening statement, this legislation is the result of more than two years of tireless bipartisan staff work and this amendment is a continuation of that process. I am grateful to the Members of this Committee for their engagement in the process to further improve the bill and to the Chairwoman for agreeing to incorporate many Republican priorities.

Such priorities include a provision from Representative Babin to launch a secure computing enclaves program to ensure the protection of federally-funded research conducted at universities.  It also includes a bipartisan provision from Representative Ross and Representative Baird to establish Technology Research Institutes at universities focused on key technology areas, and another to encourage the development of unmanned aerial vehicle technologies from Representative Anthony Gonzalez.

This Amendment also includes several new STEM education provisions--a priority for members on both sides of the aisle.  It includes Representative Kim’s provision to encourage informal STEM learning by supporting student participation in nonprofit competitions, out-of-school activities, and field experiences related to STEM subjects. 

And – as artificial intelligence continues to drive the future of technology, manufacturing, and services – this amendment recognizes that we will need a workforce of skilled researchers and practitioners to support that growth.  This amendment includes a provision from Representative Obernolte and Representative McNerney to establish traineeship and fellowship programs for graduate and post-doc students who pursue artificial intelligence-related research.

As we redouble our research investment in NSF, it is also critical we do more to ensure STEM opportunities reach more Americans.  We need to make sure investment doesn’t just happen on the coasts, or at the top 10 universities, but also in places like Stillwater, Oklahoma and land-grant institutions like Oklahoma State or Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Langston University. 

The “Capacity Building for Developing Universities” provision supports administrative capacity-building activities at minority-serving institutions to increase their expertise and ability to compete for and manage Foundation research and development awards. 

In addition, the “Fostering STEM Research Diversity and Capacity Program” will support research capacity building for research institutions outside of the top 100 federally-funded institutions. This includes developing and expanding research programs, faculty professional development, support for students to conduct hands-on research, the acquisition of research instrumentation, and much-needed administrative research support. 

I am grateful to Chairwoman Johnson for working with me to develop these complementary and important provisions that further the goal of providing quality access to STEM opportunities for all Americans, regardless of zip code. 

As always, I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside my Science Committee colleagues to prioritize fundamental research that will support U.S. innovation and keep our country safe, independent, and globally competitive.

The NSF for the Future Act is a product we should all be proud of, and today’s amendment brings us one step closer to its enactment.

I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment.

and I yield back the balance of my time.

117th Congress