Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives approved the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), a comprehensive, pro-science, fiscally responsible bill to keep America competitive and reestablish the federal government’s primary scientific role to fund basic research.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “H.R. 1806 prioritizes basic research and development while staying within the caps set by the Budget Control Act. America’s businesses rely on government support for basic research to produce the scientific breakthroughs that spur technological innovation, jumpstart new industries and spur economic growth. Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would have you believe that the only way you can be pro-science is to spend more taxpayer money than the Budget Control Act allows. Real priorities require making choices. H.R. 1806 proves that we can set priorities, make tough choices and still invest more in breakthrough research and innovation.”
The America COMPETES Act increases investments for basic energy research at the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as critical research in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics at NSF, while keeping overall spending flat. The bill provides targeted increases for NSF research by over 4%; the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by over 8%; and DOE’s Office of Science by over 5% above 2015 enacted levels.
The bill offsets those increases with cuts to programs that focus on lower priority, late-stage technology development and commercialization activities that are more effectively pursued by the private sector.
H.R. 1806 includes a provision that requires the NSF to provide non-technical explanation of the scientific merits for each taxpayer-funded grant, and how it serves the “national interest.” In testimony before the House Science Committee on February 25, NSF Director France C?rdova called the provision “very compatible” with internal NSF guidelines and with the mission statement of NSF.
H.R. 1806 was introduced by Chairman Smith and cosponsored by Science Committee Vice-Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and all five subcommittee chairs.