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House outlines multi-billion-dollar investment in science, innovation (updated)

September 16, 2021
By: Jason Rittenberg

Editor’s note, Sept. 16: This article has been updated to include additional science- and innovation-related funding proposals announced as the House continues its work on the reconciliation bill.

Committees have marked up their drafts for the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, and the proposals include multiple, significant investments that could strengthen regional innovation economies. This article identifies more than $85 billion in potential innovation-focused spending without including much of the legislation’s potential R&D investments. Among the latest items are an additional $4 billion for Regional Technology Hubs and a manufacturing-focused $1 billion for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. These add to the previously-announced $5 billion for Regional Technology Hubs, nearly $3 billion to support incubators and accelerators, and dramatic increases in tuition support for higher education. Further action is required in the House and Senate before final funding is approved.

SSTI’s Innovation Advocacy Council is tracking this process closely and has been working with offices on the Hill to support effective regional innovation policy. For more information, contact Jason Rittenberg (rittenberg@ssti.org).

The following list provides more information on some of the proposals involving science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship:

Commerce and related agencies

  • Regional Technology Hubs, Commerce, $9 billion — This funding is apparently for the program included in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), although that bill has not yet passed Congress. Two House committees have provided funds for this program: the science committee ($5 billion, as reported previously) and transportation and infrastructure ($4 billion).
  • Economic Adjustment and Public Works, EDA, $1.5 billion
  • Recompete Pilot, EDA, $4 billion — New program providing 10-year awards to 15 regions with below-average rates of prime age employment
  • Critical Manufacturing Supply Chain Resilience, Commerce, $10 billion — New program to monitor supply chain, facilitate standards, accelerate technology adoption, and provide other assistance
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), $1 billion
  • Advanced manufacturing R&D, NIST, $1 billion

Energy

  • Clean Energy Manufacturing USA Institute, $70 million
  • Renewable and efficiency demonstration projects, $1.1 billion
  • Zero-emission vehicle incentives and infrastructure — The department would receive billions across multiple programs to support grants, loans and other incentives to support electric vehicle charging, deployment and manufacturing

Small Business Administration

  • Veteran entrepreneurship programs, $35 million
  • Uplift Accelerator Program, $1 billion — New program to fund accelerators at Minority-serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and junior or community colleges
  • Business Incubators, $1 billion — New program to fund incubators, which could be operated by a wide variety of entities
  • Growth Accelerator Competition, $400 million
  • National Innovation Support Ecosystem Network, $675 million — New program that would use most of the funding to support business development services and a smaller portion ($150 million) for STEM inclusion
  • Venture Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), $9.5 billion — New SBIC facility that would allow SBA to purchase up to a 100 percent stake in these SBICs, which would need to make at least 75 percent of their investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, low income communities or small businesses; this title also includes new SBIC policy for emerging managers and a microcap license
  • Lending program for cooperatives, $500 million — New program to support loans to cooperative and employee-owned businesses

Education

  • R&D infrastructure at Minority-Serving Institutions, $2 billion
  • Pell Grant increases — Increases the maximum award amount by $500 for each fiscal year through 2030
  • Tuition-free community college — New program to grant states funds (that eventually require a match) so that no students are charged tuition for community college

Labor

  • Registered Apprenticeships, $5 billion
  • Community College-Industry Partnerships, $2 billion

Treasury (including CDFI Fund and IRS)

  • State Small Business Credit Initiative, Treasury, $1 billion — For manufacturing
  • New Markets Tax Credit, CDFI Fund, $3+ billion — The proposal would make the credits permanent and increase the amount of credits available in the next two fiscal years, as well as make new allocations available for Tribal areas and territories
  • Tax policy changes —
    • New, $25 billion category within the Advanced Energy Project Credits to fund projects with significant workforce development and employment impacts
    • Extension of renewable energy credits through at least 2033
    • Increase in capital gains tax rate to 25 percent for filers in the top income tax bracket

Other agencies

  • R&D, National Science Foundation, $7.6 billion — This funding is likely to be at least partially intended for the new Technology Directorate that would be authorized by USICA
  • Automated vehicle information, Transportation $8 million — To create a clearinghouse for mobility information and research

The list above does not include billions of additional dollars for R&D activities across multiple agencies. Much of this funding would prioritize projects advancing climate and other environmental sciences.

Next steps

The committee bills move next to the House budget committee before proceeding to the floor for a vote on a combined reconciliation package. The Senate committees seem likely to provide their reports directly to the Senate budget committee without markups. From there, both chambers will need to vote on their legislation and then conference any disagreements.

Notably, Senate rules generally limit the degree that new policy can be implemented through the reconciliation process, and some of the House drafts seem to go beyond simple appropriations instructions by including pages-long authorizations of new programs. What will or will not be allowed in the Senate is difficult to predict, but there could be substantial changes to the items listed above before the bill is considered by the full Congress.

legislation, federal agency