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Congressional moves to increase R&D

April 01, 2021

While President Biden’s infrastructure proposal with heavy investments in science, technology and innovation garnered most of the press attention in the last week, a number of other developments occurred in or impacting federal policy, including:

  • In a bipartisan announcement, the combined House Science Committee leadership introduced the NSF for the Future Act to reauthorize the foundation, increase its funding significantly, and creates a new directorate for science and engineering solutions, among other things.
  • Rep Frank Lucas, ranking member of the House Science Space, and Technology Committee, introduced legislation co-sponsored by his Republican colleagues on the committee to double federal basic research spending over a decade.
  • OECD estimates in 2019, the U.S. finally topped the 3.0 percent milestone for R&D’s share of total GDP. AAAS reports, although the 3.07 percent figure is a record high for the U.S., it still places us no better than eighth or ninth in the world.
  • The federal share of that 3.07 percent is only around 0.7 percent. President Biden last week said he’d like to see the federal share of science funding closer to 2.0 percent, a level last seen during the 1960s, a reference point lost on the 74 percent of Americans either born after 1970 or too young to care in the 1960s.
  • Senate majority whip Dick Durban introduced two bills creating automatic annual increases of five percent plus inflation for the R&D budgets of nine specific research agencies and programs.
r&d, policy