In DepthU.S. SCIENCE FUNDING

Bills giving NSF big budget boost gain traction

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Science  21 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6544, pp. 777
DOI: 10.1126/science.372.6544.777

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Summary

Two congressional panels last week endorsed a vision for a rapid doubling of the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) budget as part of a broader strategy for outinnovating China and the rest of the world. Lawmakers in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives scaled back one aspect of the original proposal that would have created a technology directorate at NSF that would dwarf the rest of the agency, and the Senate committee also added the Department of Energy to the mix and ordered both agencies to pay more attention to geographic diversity when making awards. The narrower House bill, which was limited to reauthorizing NSF programs, faces a relatively smooth path to passage. However, the Senate bill, now 1420 pages, hit the floor his week with new and controversial sections aimed at dealing with China's ascendent economic and military strength. Advocates for higher education, who have applauded both bills' enthusiasm for basic research, warned they might withdraw their support unless senators remove "extraneous and complicated provisions that undermine its primary goals."

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