Washington Update

Inside (the Beltway) Scoop

By: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Infrastructure Bill Supports Research and Development to Keep America Globally Competitive

On March 31 President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion-plus infrastructure bill, the American Jobs Plan, which features several research elements meant to keep America globally competitive. Some of these research and development (R&D) elements are designed to advance U.S. leadership in critical technologies and upgrade America’s research infrastructure by providing $50 billion to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The aim is to create a technology directorate built on existing programs across the government. The plan will focus on biotechnology, semiconductors and advanced computing, advanced communications technology, and advanced energy technologies.

Biden also is calling on Congress to provide $30 billion in additional funding for R&D that spurs innovation and job creation, including in rural areas. Another $40 billion would be used to upgrade research infrastructure in laboratories across the country, including brick-and-mortar facilities and computing capabilities and networks. These funds would be allocated across the federal R&D agencies, including at the U.S. Department of Energy. Half of those funds will be reserved for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including the creation of a new national lab focused on climate that will be affiliated with an HBCU.

The plan also includes a section devoted to eliminating racial and gender inequities in R&D and science, technology, engineering, and math. The package provides $10 billion for R&D investment at HBCUs and other MSIs. Another $15 billion would be used to create up to 200 centers of excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs and other MSIs to provide graduate fellowships and other opportunities for underserved populations, including through pre-college programs.

Additionally, climate science and innovation would receive $35 billion to position America as the global leader in clean energy technology and clean energy jobs. This includes launching Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate or ARPA-C to develop new methods for reducing emissions and building climate resilience, as well as expanding across-the-board funding for climate research.

FASEB will be carefully watching developments of this package as text is being written.