The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved four technology and innovation-related bills by voice vote during a markup session on July 27. The committee’s vote sends these four bills to the House floor for further consideration.
National Institute of Standards and Technology for the Future Act of 2021
The first bill the committee passed, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the Future Act of 2021, would reauthorize NIST for five years, providing $7.9 billion of funding over those five years, “allowing for growth that is both ambitious and sustainable,” as Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex., said.
The legislation was introduced by Chairwoman Johnson, Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., Rep. Mike Waltz, R-Fla., and Ranking Member Frank Lucas, R-Okla.
“Congress has not reauthorized this agency, since 2010. And in that time, its budget has only grown modestly and little has been done to modernize it. But yet, NIST has the capability to do more with less,” Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., said during the markup. “The bill authorizes a significant but sustainable increase in this budget to ensure the agency can boldly advance industries of the future, while continuing to invest across all its important areas of research.”
The committee also passed 15 different amendments by voice vote for the bill.
“I am so proud of this bill, and the transparent, bipartisan, and deliberative process that continues to make it even better,” Rep. Stevens said.
National Science and Technology Strategy Act of 2021
The second bill the committee passed was the National Science and Technology Strategy Act of 2021, introduced by Chairwoman Johnson, Ranking Member Lucas, Rep. Waltz, and Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C.
The legislation would require the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to establish a national science and technology strategy every four years and conduct a quadrennial U.S. science and technology review.
“The U.S. government has an unrivaled R&D enterprise, but it is spread across more than a dozen Federal agencies. And so inefficiencies in cooperation could lead to the U.S. falling behind in key areas such as artificial intelligence, climate research, and cybersecurity,” Rep. Ross said.
“This bill directs OSTP, to complete a comprehensive quadrennial review that will provide an overview of the nation’s innovation landscape and provide policymakers, industry, researchers, and other stakeholders with unbiased data and analysis to identify the future needs, barriers, and opportunities for U.S. science and technology,” she said.
Regional Innovation Act of 2021
The third bill the committee passed was the Regional Innovation Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., and Rep. Jim Baird, R-Ind.
This legislation would “authorize a program at the Department of Commerce to designate and support regional technology and innovation hubs across the country,” Rep. Wild said during the markup.
“It would use a merit-based competitive process to bring together consortia, consisting of local and state governments, universities, industry, labor organizations, and other groups to promote innovation in a region, tailored to that region’s strengths and opportunities,” Rep. Wild said.
“The program would include funding for both planning and implementation of regional strategies,” she added. “The legislation focuses on four types of activities: workforce development, technology maturation, entrepreneurship support, and infrastructure. Importantly, the legislation ensures the voices that have often been left behind in the innovation economy have a real seat at the table for both planning and implementation.”
The bill would authorize a total of $6.85 billion over five years for the program.
Energizing Technology Transfer Act
The final technology and innovation-related bill the committee passed was the Energizing Technology Transfer Act, introduced by Rep. Ross and Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Mich.
This bill would “allow universities and private sector companies to capitalize on the Department of Energy’s research to accelerate the commercial application of clean energy technologies,” as Rep. Ross described.
“To fully maximize a return on investment in the department’s programs and facilities, we need to take the next step of ensuring that critical new technologies reach the marketplace,” Rep. Meijer said. “Only in the hands of the private sector can new innovations and discoveries truly fulfill their promise to ensure our energy security, protect our environment, and meaningfully impact the lives of our constituents.”
“This bill will ensure better coordination and talent sharing between our Federal resources in the private sector, setting us up for future generations for success and endless opportunities,” he added.