Washington, D.C. – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today approved two important bills to support high quality research at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Both bipartisan bills were approved by voice vote.
The Research Excellence and Advancements for Dyslexia Act (READ Act) (H.R. 3033)
The READ Act is a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) to support important research at NSF to help overcome dyslexia. Reps. Smith and Brownley are co-chairs of the Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, which is comprised of over 100 Members of Congress and is dedicated to increasing public awareness about dyslexia and ensuring all students have equal educational opportunities. Dyslexia affects an estimated 8.5 million school children and one in six Americans in some form.
Rep. Smith: “Despite the prevalence of dyslexia, many Americans remain undiagnosed, untreated and silently struggle at school or work. More research focused on practical applications is the best way to help develop the potential of students. This research includes greater awareness of how to identify students with dyslexia, better curricula, more resources in the hands of parents, teachers, and students, and the development of proven implementation and scaling models for effective interventions. The READ Act will provide an opportunity for a brighter and more productive future for millions of Americans.”
The READ Act requires the president’s annual budget request to Congress to include a line item for the Research in Disabilities Education program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). It also requires the NSF to devote at least $5 million annually to dyslexia research.
The Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (H.R. 3293)
The Committee also approved the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that the NSF is accountable to the taxpayers about how their hard-earned dollars are spent. The bill requires that each NSF public announcement of a grant award be accompanied by a non-technical explanation of the project’s scientific merits and how it serves the national interest. This written justification is intended to affirm NSF’s newly required determination that a project is worthy of taxpayer support.
Chairman Smith: “America’s future economic growth and national security depend on innovation. Public and private investments in research and development fuel the economy, create jobs and lead to new technologies that benefit Americans’ daily lives. But to remain a world leader, we must ensure that our investments fund the highest quality basic research. Unfortunately, in recent years, the federal government has awarded too many grants that few Americans would consider to be in the national interest. This legislation requires the NSF explain in writing and in non-technical language how each research grant awarded supports the national interest. This will add transparency, accountability and credibility to the NSF and its grant process, which will help the NSF earn the public’s support.”
The NSF has recently recognized the need for increased transparency and accountability and has begun to implement a policy of clear, non-technical explanations of research projects. This legislation is consistent with NSF’s mission and makes this commitment permanent.
At a Science Committee hearing held earlier this year, NSF Director France Córdova agreed with a legislative effort to uphold a national interest standard for taxpayer-funded research grants. The Scientific Research in the National Interest Act is virtually identical to a provision that passed the House this spring as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015.
The bill clearly states, “Nothing in this section shall be construed as altering the Foundation’s intellectual merit or broader impacts criteria for evaluating grant applications.”
The following bipartisan members of the Science Committee are original cosponsors of H.R. 3293: Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.); Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); Alan Grayson (D-Fla.); Barbara Comstock (R-Va.); John Moolenaar (R-Mich.); Randy Weber (R-Texas); Stephen Knight (R-Calif.); Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla); Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.); Brian Babin (R-Texas); Mo Brooks (R-Ala.); Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.); Bill Johnson (R-Utah); Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.); Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas); Bill Posey (R-Fla.); Gary Palmer (R-Ala.); and Ralph Abraham (R-La.).