NSF reauthorization bill introduced in the US House

On March 26, the National Science Foundation for the Future Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.  The bill would authorize funding for the entire agency from FY22-26, increasing funding about 6 percent each year to a total of $13.3 billion in FY26, up from its current funding of approximately $7 billion/year. The bill would also create a new “Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions”, which would be charged with supporting use-inspired and translational research. The bill would also authorize increases to STEM education and training programs, including the Graduate Research Fellowship Program and NSF Research Traineeship Program. Federal agencies are subject to periodic ‘reauthorizations’ that create opportunities to update spending authority and establish new statutory responsibilities.

Association of American Universities (AAU) President Barbara R. Snyder issued a statement applauding the measure’s “bipartisan support for making the bold federal investments in scientific research that help us stay at the forefront of global scientific advancement.”

American Educational Research Association Executive Director Felice J. Levine said, “It is refreshing to see a commitment to basic science, including education research; appreciation of the need for expanded statistics and data regarding science and the scientific workforce; and a fundamental understanding of why the National Science Foundation was created and the importance of substantial investment in its mission and leadership for advancing science and our larger society.”

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has published a section by section summary of the bill.

It is expected that several US Senate committees will begin work in April on a revised version of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pursuing an approach known as the Endless Frontiers Act that would dramatically expand support for NSF. A version of the bill circulated in 2020 would have renamed the agency. That provision has been dropped.