House Introduces New Version of Sweeping Research and Innovation Bill; Vote Expected
On January 25, Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 4521). As previously reported, House and Senate leaders have been working on innovation and competitiveness legislation for more than two years now. While the House’s approach has been to focus on shoring up the U.S. scientific enterprise through targeted investments in the National Science Foundation and other science agencies, the Senate’s focus has been more squarely on competing with China through investments in key technologies. This has made negotiations between the House and Senate challenging. The new House bill appears to be the chamber’s latest response to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) that passed the Senate over the summer and, as such, contains several similarities to USICA.
For example, both bills call for the establishment of a new research directorate at NSF and would authorize regional innovation hubs, as proposed in earlier versions of the bills. In addition, both bills include sections related to research security, albeit each taking differing approaches. Several major differences remain between the two measures that will need to be addressed in a conference committee between the chambers, such as proposals in the House bill to support climate change mitigation and provisions that would eliminate caps on green cards for doctoral graduates in STEM fields.
The House Rules Committee is meeting today to determine which amendments to consider when the COMPETES Act heads to the House floor for debate, which could begin as soon as this week. COSSA is currently analyzing the nearly 3,000-page package and will provide additional details in the coming days.