Senate to Resume Consideration of U.S. Innovation and Competition Act Next Week
Next week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to bring the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), formerly the Endless Frontier Act, to the floor for a vote. As currently constituted, the bill would authorize over 5 years $12.4 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), $26 billion for a new technology directorate at NSF, $17 billion for the Department of Energy, $17.5 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, $10 billion for regional economic development incubator hubs through the Department of Commerce, and $10 billion for NASA, among other provisions.
The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is expected to mark up a comprehensive NSF reauthorization bill, the NSF for the Future Act, sometime in June. The NSF for the Future Act takes a different approach toward the new technology directorate, but has the shared aim with the Senate legislation to help translate more basic research into commercial breakthroughs. If the House passes the NSF for the Future Act, later this summer it could be used as a basis for a conference negotiation with the USICA.
Associations Submit Comments on Reducing USCIS Administrative Burdens
APLU joined higher education organization partners in submitting comments to the Department of Homeland Security’s Request for Information (RFI) on “Identifying Barriers Across U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Benefits and Services,” which sought input on how USCIS can lessen administrative burdens that create hardships for foreign citizens utilizing its services.
In response to the RFI, the letter encourages USCIS to strengthen the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; withdraw problematic proposed and final rules, including duration of status and wage-based selection process for H-1Bs; address delays and issues in processing; and restore an advisory committee for higher education.
The Compete America Coalition, of which APLU is a member, also submitted comments highlighting immigration policy and process issues USCIS should address to reduce administrative barriers and burdens.
Senate Confirms Eric Lander to Lead OSTP
Last week, the Senate confirmed Eric Lander by voice vote to serve as the next director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). President Biden has elevated the OSTP director role to a Cabinet level position for the first time in history. OSTP Director Lander is expected to advise the White House on the “scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, and the environment.”
A geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, Dr. Lander previously served as the president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under the Obama administration.