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Waltz Opening Statement at Full Committee Markup of NSF for the Future Act

Jun 15, 2021
Opening Statement

Good Morning Chairwoman Johnson and thank you for holding today’s full committee markup of the NSF For the Future Act and for offering this bipartisan amendment to incorporate further stakeholder feedback and make technical changes to the text. 

I am proud of the process this Committee has undertaken to get here today.  After more than a year we are now considering a bill that takes important steps in growing the mission of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ensure we maintain our edge against rising global competition while also protecting the Foundation’s core mission.

It includes long-term planning to make strategic and sustainable investments in the STEM workforce to expand and enhance the American talent pipeline, supports the construction and maintenance of world-class facilities, and promotes the research needed to develop revolutionary technologies that are crucial to our national and economic security. 

While making these investments, we also secure taxpayer-funded research and technologies from adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Currently, the NSF funds approximately 12,000 annual awards to more than 40,000 recipients.  Through the investments this bill proposes, these numbers are anticipated to nearly double.  With that growth comes a greater need for resources, authority, and tools for the Foundation, sponsoring institutions, and applicants to identify and address malign foreign influence and research theft. 

I want to thank Chairwoman Johnson, Ranking Member Lucas and Chairwoman Stevens for working with me during our subcommittee markup and adding my amendment to ensure NSF has the resources and the authority to further investigate and act on concerning findings.  It also instructs the Director to develop required online security training modules to ensure that individual researchers understand what makes an appropriate partnership and the importance of accurate disclosures, setting a baseline for what is acceptable and unacceptable. 

 

It is critical we strike the correct balance between keeping our research enterprise open, but also protecting it from adversaries who seek to take advantage of our open system.  There is more work to be done – including adopting the amendment Rep. Feenstra and I are offering today to prohibit grant applicants from participating in malign foreign talent programs—but I think these provisions take some big steps in striking that balance.

I also want to thank the university system for working with me on the training module policy that requires institutions to certify compliance.

With the CCP threatening to leapfrog the United States technologically, we are at an inflection point and it is critical for the U.S. to scale up our R&D enterprise.  This includes the need for more R&D to secure our domestic supply chain of critical minerals. China currently has a stronghold on the supply and processing technology of these resources which endangers our ability to produce critical end products.

I want to thank the Chairwoman for including a provision from my “American Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2021” in this amendment.  The provision supports basic research grants to advance critical minerals mining strategies and technologies to better utilize existing domestic resources.  We need to bring this supply chain back to America – and this provision is an important part of achieving that goal.

Lastly, I would also like to thank Representative Ross, Ranking Member Lucas, and Chairwoman Johnson for co-sponsoring the “National Science and Technology Strategy Act of 2021” with me, which we introduced on Friday.  As we consider these two bills today that would double down on our investment in science and technology, it is critical we also have a whole-of-government strategic approach to develop U.S. research and innovation goals.

By requiring a national S&T strategy to be set every 4 years, this legislation will help the United States establish priorities to remain competitive on a global scale and stay a leader in cross-cutting innovation.  I look forward to working with the Chairwoman on moving this bill through our Committee in the future. 

There is momentum on both sides of the aisle to make the needed investments to scale up the U.S. research enterprise, but it must be done in a realistic and sustainable way.  I believe this legislation does just that.  I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation with Chairwoman Johnson, Ranking Member Lucas, and Chairwoman Stevens. 

I want to thank them and their staff for working together to develop such a strong piece of legislation.  I encourage Members to support this amendment and support the full bill on final passage.

I yield back the balance of my time.

117th Congress