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APLU Hails Enactment of U.S. Competitiveness Legislation

Washington, DC – APLU President Peter McPherson, who attended the White House signing ceremony for CHIPS and Science Act, today issued the following statement on the enactment of legislation to bolster U.S. competitiveness.

“Enactment of legislation to bolster U.S. competitiveness is an extraordinary victory for American science and innovation, but hardly a final one. Today’s enactment provides critical reauthorization for U.S. research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. The law also authorizes a new use-inspired research technology directorate at NSF, enabling the world’s preeminent fundamental science research agency to add new efforts to bolster American innovation.

“This multi-pronged approach to bolstering American scientific leadership will enable public research universities to tackle vexing global challenges, spark innovations, and promote widely shared prosperity. The bill authorizes critical new resources for STEM scholarships, fellowships, and traineeships to support new workforce pathways as well as new programs to support research capacity at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions. And to help foster economic development in often-overlooked regions, the bill authorizes key new resources for the creation of 20 geographically distributed regional technology hubs for technology development, job creation, and expanding U.S. innovation capacity.

“Yet despite this important progress, much work lies ahead. We cannot lose sight of the fact that American innovation has scarcely been more challenged on a global stage. At a time when global competitors are poised to pass the U.S. as the global leader in research and development investment, U.S. investment in science and technology continues to hover near multi-decade lows as a share of the economy. The CHIPS Act authorizes billions of dollars for research spending at federal agencies like the NSF, but it does not appropriate new dollars to agencies to undertake pathbreaking research that saves lives, enhances quality of life, and drives job creation and economic growth. We have been here before: In 2007, Congress authorized tens of billions of dollars of new investments in federal research only to fail to deliver on funding – at great cost to American innovation. The costs of continuing to fail to make needed investments through the appropriations process are unacceptable. This law must be step one in a process that ultimately includes Congress delivering the funding that will accomplish the goals of the legislation.

“We also urge Congress to accomplish important components of earlier legislation that were ultimately not included in this law. As our competitor nations reform their immigration policies to better attract talent from across the globe, Congress should streamline the path to a green card for international students who earn STEM degrees so they can enhance American innovation, job creation, and economic growth after they’ve graduated. We’re also disappointed that critically important measures such as the College Transparency Act and a reauthorization of the Title VI International Education programs were left out of the final legislation.

“Still, this law is a substantial win for the country and a step towards claiming global leadership in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, and clean energy. We urge Congress to get to work in providing the funding to deliver on the promise of the bill.”

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