Last week, the full House of Representatives passed the National Science Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) and the DOE Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593). Both bills passed by wide, bipartisan margins; the NSF bill passed on a 345-67 vote, while the DOE SC bill passed by 351-68. The bills now head into a conference process with the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021.
We detailed both pieces of legislation, as passed by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, last month. The versions passed by the full House are roughly the same, except for a small change in the NSF bill. The new Directorate for Science & Engineering Solutions (SES) is now receiving more money in the second year (2023) and less money in the fifth year (2026) of the bill. This appears to correct an issue where the rest of RRA, where SES is located, would have gotten a cut because the new directorate would receive the majority of the increase. Now RRA’s top-line, minus SES, would receive more money than it was before. This appears to be a technical correction made by the Science Committee staff, as there were no amendments considered on the House floor before passage.
New SES Authorization Numbers:
2022 – $1.40B
2023 – $2.30B (+64% over previous)
2024 – $2.90B (+26% over previous)
2025 – $3.25B (+12% over previous)
2026 – $3.40B (+4.6% over previous)
There are no other changes of note in the policy language in the NSF bill and the DOE Science bill is virtually the same as passed by the Science Committee.
The process now heads to conference with the Senate’s NSF bill. As we have mentioned before, this is likely to be an awkward process, as the Senate bill covers several topics that the House hasn’t taken up. There is a possibility either the Senate or House bills could be added to must-pass legislation, such as the annual Defense policy bill; or these bills could hang in limbo for several months, while negotiations happen among leadership, before any final actions. We are now in a wait-and-see situation.
Bottom line: this is really good news. Both chambers of Congress have passed bills authorizing large increases to NSF and DOE Science research and done so on a clear, bipartisan basis. This can only be read as a vote of confidence in both agencies and their missions.