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Making America Competitive Again

The “CHIPS and Science Act” Will Help Us Maintain Our Competitive Edge in the Global Science Race – But Its Important Initiatives Must Be Funded

Just days after many news outlets and Capitol Hill observers had declared dead the latest attempt by Congress to pass legislation that will keep our nation’s scientific enterprise competitive on the global stage, the “CHIPS and Science Act” (H.R. 4346) was resurrected – and passed both chambers with significant bipartisan majorities . This landmark legislation authorizes billions of dollars for existing and new programs within federal science agencies that will help support domestic research, education, and innovation. New policies and programs in the bill will also help bridge the gap that too often prevents government-funded research from making the leap to marketable, real-world applications.

The CHIPS and Science Act is a monumental policy achievement for America’s scientific research enterprise and is the culmination of years of effort by America’s leading research universities, our partners in the business and higher education communities, countless other advocates for scientific research, and several members of Congress and their staffers. Drawing good provisions from predecessor legislation while avoiding provisions that would have impeded science and innovation, the CHIPS and Science Act includes five years of funding authorizations for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science as well as more than $52 billion in grants, subsidies, and tax incentives to strengthen domestic semiconductor production. The bill also advances diversity in STEM education and programs and reauthorizes key NASA space programs.

CHIPS and Science is an example of how Congress, even in these extremely divisive times, can still work together in a bipartisan fashion to advance American science and innovation. In particular, the chairs and ranking members of both the Senate and House Science Committees deserve praise for this accomplishment. They are:

  • Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS)

  • House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK).

This a particularly fitting accomplishment for Chairwoman Johnson as she winds down a long and fruitful career of service in Congress advancing the American scientific enterprise and helping ensure that it equally benefits all Americans, regardless of gender or race/ethnicity. Accordingly, the CHIPS and Science Act contains key provisions advancing equity in STEM fields and bolstering protections against sexual harassment and misconduct in research settings – provisions for which Chairwoman Johnson and her team can claim significant credit.

I would also be remiss if I did not recognize Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who worked over the past two years to advance the precursor legislation to the CHIPS and Science Act as well as many of the final science provisions contained in it. They also had help from other key members of both parties in both chambers, including Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), who (with Leader Schumer) originally co-sponsored the Endless Frontier Act, from which many of the key provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act were drawn.

Now we must take the next step to make sure these policy measures are more than just ideas. I urge Congress to put real money behind this groundbreaking framework by approving appropriations in the pending FY23 process and future years that match the research investments the CHIPS and Science Act authorizes. We’ve come this far; we now must put our money where our good intentions are.