Federal Relations

July 13, 2020

CJS and Defense Up Next

The House Appropriations Committee just completed its markup of the Labor-HHS and Energy and Water Development bills.  It is scheduled to take up tomorrow the FY2021 Commerce-Justice-Science and Defense bills.

NSF

Within the CJS bill, NSF would be funded at $8.55 billion, an increase of $270.0 million

The Research and Related Activities would receive $6.97 billion, an increase of $229.9 million above the current level.  The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would be flat funded at $243.2 million.  The Education and Human Resources account would see an increase of $30 million and would be funded at $970.0 million.

The report highlights a number of topics of special emphasis for and interest to Congress.  These include, for example:

Artificial intelligence (AI).—The Committee believes it is important to maintain leadership in artificial intelligence and commends NSF for its significant investments in this area. The Committee recognizes the potential of artificial intelligence to transform the economy, foster economic growth, support national security, and enhance well-being.

To continue the progress in this emerging field, the Committee recommends no less than the fiscal year 2020 levels to support AI related grants and interdisciplinary research initiatives. The committee encourages NSF to continue its efforts in workforce development for AI and other emerging technologies, with focused outreach to community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Minority Serving Institutions.

The Committee urges NSF to invest in the ethical and safe development of AI. Within 90 days of enactment of this Act, NSF shall provide the Committee with a report on its efforts to prioritize investments in AI research. In addition, the Committee encourages NSF to report to the Committee on any cooperative projects on Artificial Intelligence between United States entities and international partners.

Quantum initiative.—The Committee supports NSF’s research program in quantum information science and technology in support of the authorized activities included in section 401 and section 402 of the National Quantum Initiative Act (Public Law 115 368). This emerging field of science promises to yield revolutionary new approaches to computing, sensing, and communication. NSF should remain committed to developing and supporting systems that facilitate tremendous leaps in computational simulation, including artificial intelligence, storage, quantum computing, and data analyses that enable a broad range of scientific research. Leading edge highperformance computing infrastructure is vital for continued U.S. world leadership and international scientific competitiveness, particularly given computational investments and technical achievements in high-performance computing by other nations. The recommendation provides no less than the fiscal year 2020 level for these activities.

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).—The Committee supports the work of the Oceans and Human Health program to better understand the public health risk of environmental exposures and encourages NSF to continue to support research into the human health impacts of HABs in marine coastal regions, the Great Lakes Basin, and other freshwater systems. HABs jeopardize the integrity of drinking water resources in these regions. The recommendation provides no less than the fiscal year 2020 level for HAB research activities.

Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs).—The Committee notes that among the minority-serving institutions with whom NSF provides grant opportunities, AANAPISIs are not designated. The Committee urges NSF to increase grant funding opportunities for AANAPISIs, and to reach out to these institutions to raise awareness regarding these grants.

Broadening participation programs.—To broaden the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education programs and, ultimately, the STEM workforce, the recommendation provides no less than $51,000,000 for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation; no less than $70,000,000 for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program; no less than $75,000,000 for the Advanced Technological Education Program; and no less than $18,000,000 for the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program.

Computer Science for All (CSforAll).—CSforAll will help facilitate research into effective approaches to the teaching and learning of computer science across grades Pre-K 12; it is critical to NSF’s mission and to ensure America’s children are prepared for a 21st century economy. The Committee supports this new program and is encouraged by its promise.

NOAA

The bill would fund the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) at NOAA at $584.4 million, an increase of $36 million above the current level.

Within OAR, the Climate Research program would be funded at $190.0 million, which includes $78 million for Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes and $69 million for Climate Competitive Research.

The OAR account in this bill would also increase by $4 million for the Sea Grant program, bringing the total to $71 million.

The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), funded through the National Ocean Service at NOAA, would be funded at $40.5 million.

NASA

The agency as a whole would be flat funded at $22.6 billion in this bill.  The Science Directorate programs would receive a total of $7.1 billion.  The Space Technology Directorate would see $1.1 billion while Aeronautics would receive $819 million.  As part of the STEM Engagement Office, the Space Grant program would see an increase of $2 million and would be funded at $50 million.

The Science Directorate would break down, in part, in the following manner:

  • Earth Science:  $2.0 billion
  • Planetary Science:  $2.7 billion
  • Astrophysics:  $1.3 billion
  • Webb Telescope:  $423 million
  • Heliophysicis:  $633 million

The bill would fund the WFIRST project at the community-requested level of $505.2 million.