Measure aims to boost federal funding of scientific research

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) | Contributed photo

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman, introduced a bill on Wednesday that aims to keep the U.S. scientifically competitive.

The bill, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (COMPETES) Reauthorization Act of 2015, re-establishes the federal government as the catalyst for basic research by increasing funding by 5 percent for agencies that conduct fundamental discovery science.

“To remain competitive, we need to make sure our priorities are funded and that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” Smith said. “The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 funds innovative science and prioritizes taxpayer investments in basic research, without increasing overall spending.”

The bill, aiming to be fiscally responsible, balances the funding increases with cuts to programs that focus on later-stage technology development and commercialization activities, with the belief that these endeavors are better-suited for the private sector.

“American researchers are falling behind in critical areas such as supercomputing and particle physics, and we risk losing our lead in nanotechnology, the health sciences, advanced nuclear reactor technology and other crucial areas,” Smith said.

“To reverse this trend, the America COMPETES Act increases investments for basic energy research at the Department of Energy, as well as critical research in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering and mathematics at the National Science Foundation.”

The committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Wednesday.

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