New Legislation Would Double Basic Research Funding Over 10 Years

On March 23, Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, led by Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), reintroduced the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act (SALSTA).

The bill would double basic research funding over 10 years at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As written, the bill is framed as a response to two threats: climate change, and increased economic and military competition from China.

The bill recommends $9.3 billion for NSF in fiscal year (FY) 2022, a significant increase over the $8.5 billion appropriation for FY21. The Research and Related Activities budget line, which includes the NSF research directorates, would grow from $7.6 billion in FY 2022 to $13.8 billion in FY 2031. The Education and Human Resources Directorate would receive a smaller increase from $1 billion in FY 2022 to $1.6 billion in FY 2031.

In addition to authorization funding levels, the bill includes language to:

  • Support the U.S. STEM talent pipeline by growing NSF Graduate Research Fellowships to over 2,500 students annually over the next 10 years, and doubling the number of science teachers funded per year through the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.
  • Develop cybersecurity standards and guidance specifically tailored to research institutes and universities, establish an Office of Research Security and Policy at NSF, and study how federal funds were dispersed to foreign entities to better understand how to protect American intellectual property.
  • Conduct an external review of NSF’s research directorate structure to evaluate and possibly improve support for cross- disciplinary research. 
  • Provide incentives and training to encourage reproducibility in science.

Congressman Lucas has been outspoken about the need to jump start American basic research. He recently shared his thoughts in an opinion piece, reiterating his support for the bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act and contextualizing this urgent need in terms of the pandemic recovery and global competition. The advocacy community also expects leaders on the Science, Space, and Technology committee will soon introduce bipartisan NSF reauthorization legislation.

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