On June 28, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 345-67 to pass the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), which would more than double NSF’s budget over five years and create a new Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions (SES) to enable translational research.
Introduced by House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Subcommittee on Research and Technology Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Ranking Member Michael Waltz (R-FL), the legislation would increase NSF’s current annual budget from $8.5 billion to $17.9 billion in FY 2026, while the annual authorization for the new Directorate would increase from $1 billion in FY 2022 to $3.5 billion by FY 2026. Several scientific groups, including NSC Alliance, have endorsed the measure.
Along with the NSF reauthorization bill, the House also passed the Department of Energy (DOE) Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593), which would increase the authorized annual budget for the DOE Office of Science by 63 percent to $11.1 billion over the next five years. The science agency was funded at $7 billion in FY 2021.
Meanwhile, the Senate passed a broader authorization bill on June 8, the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260), formerly referred to as the Endless Frontier Act. The Senate bill would authorize $52 billion for NSF’s existing activities, $29 billion for the new technology directorate, and $17 billion for DOE national labs over five years.
The competing authorization bills approved by the House and Senate will now need to be reconciled, a process that could potentially take several months. Even after a final reconciled bill is enacted into law, appropriators can decide to dole out less funding than the levels that are eventually authorized.