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Capitol Corner: Bringing Investment Certainty to Cutting Edge Research

Capitol Corner: Bringing Investment Certainty to Cutting Edge Research

If we are to increase American competitiveness and strengthen our economy for decades to come, a commitment to invest in cutting edge research is desperately needed. Recently, a bill was introduced in Congress that does just that while providing a long-term focus on innovation and progress.

Introduced by two Illinois members, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Foster, the American Innovation Act would provide annual budget increases of five percent for cutting edge research at the National Science Foundation; the Department of Energy Office of Science; the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs; the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research Services; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Directorate. This bill would provide budget certainty and steady, consistent investment that America’s top research agencies can depend on.

Too often research agencies are disrupted by budget uncertainties, which have an adverse impact on research initiatives and the sectors that rely on them. The American Innovation Act addresses this head on.

“If we want to spur job growth, improve national security, and develop the technologies of the future, then we must empower our federal research agencies. The American Innovation Act would provide the robust funding needed to ensure America leads the world in breakthrough discoveries,” said Senator Durbin. Congressman Foster echoed these sentiments, noting that past investments in science and technology have helped expand the economy and advance America’s national security. Foster notes that it's critical our scientists “have the resources they need to help ensure our nation remains at the forefront of research and innovation."

In a joint release, the lawmakers noted that American research and development funding has decreased from roughly twelve percent in the 1960’s to less than four percent today. Total nondefense research and development now accounts for less than two percent of federal spending. Meanwhile, China’s research intensity has increased sharply since the early 2000s, threatening to surpass the U.S. in government-backed research and development.

ASME is pleased to join other engineering and technology societies in endorsing this legislation.

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