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Bullet policy · Aug 02, 2021

House Science Panel Considers Innovation Bills

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently advanced several bipartisan science and technology policy legislation, including a reauthorization bill for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The NIST for the Future Act (H.R. 4609), introduced by the House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), along with Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Ranking Member Mike Waltz (R-FL), would increase the agency’s annual budget to nearly $1.6 billion by fiscal year (FY) 2026. NIST was funded at just over $1 billion in FY 2021. The bill would update programs across the agency and prioritize research in areas such as engineering biology, greenhouse gas measurement, biometrics, quantum information science, and artificial intelligence.

Other innovation bills advanced by the science committee to the House floor include:

  • The National Science and Technology Strategy Act (H.R. 3858), which would direct the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to conduct a quadrennial assessment of U.S. science and technology and develop a comprehensive national strategy to meet research and development objectives and maintain global leadership in science and technology.
  • The Regional Innovation Act (H.R. 4588), which would direct the Secretary of Commerce to create no fewer than ten new regional technology innovation hubs.
  • The Energizing Technology Transfer Act (H.R. 4606), which would support the commercialization of clean energy technologies.

Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas have also introduced a bill to advance engineering biology research. The Bioeconomy Research and Development Act would establish a “National Engineering Biology Research and Development Program” to advance engineering biology research. The bill would also expand the number of engineering biology researchers; accelerate the translation and commercialization of engineering biology; and improve interagency planning and coordination of federal engineering biology research initiatives.

“Biology-based innovation is one of the greatest tools we have in addressing some of our world’s greatest challenges,” said Chairwoman Johnson. “Engineering biology research will help us grow sustainable food that is more resilient to climate change, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and make more effective drugs to treat human disease, including the COVID-19 vaccines.”


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