US House nod for legislation to boost scientific research

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The US lawmakers passed two bills on a bipartisan basis to increase funding for the National Science Foundation…reports Asian Lite News

The US House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation that would boost scientific research in an effort to make the US more competitive than China.

The US lawmakers passed two bills on a bipartisan basis to increase funding for the National Science Foundation and establish a new directorate for science and engineering to expand research opportunities, as well as authorise research funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, reported The Hill.

“We must significantly boost funding for science. For years, we have allowed millions of dollars of excellent research go unfunded,” said House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

“We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history and we need to be more focused on the role of science in our society,” he added.

The first bill, called the National Science Foundation for the Future Act was passed in a 345-67 vote while the second measure, titled the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act was passed 351-68. They would increase funding for the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy’s Office of Science by about seven per cent annually.

Republicans also added a provision in committee to ban grant applicants from participating in talent programs associated with foreign governments of concern such as the Thousand Talents Program, which is tied to the Chinese government, according to The Hill.

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“It is critical that we strike the correct balance between keeping our research enterprise open but also from protecting it from adversaries who seek to take advantage of our open system,” said Republican Representative Michael Waltz.

Aside from the two bills passed on Monday, which originated out of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, separate legislation out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is also in the works, The Hill reported.

The bill, introduced by Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks would provide temporary protection or refugee status to people in Hong Kong and Uyghurs facing human rights violations by the Chinese government and invest in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines to promote U.S. “vaccine diplomacy” to counter Chinese vaccines, which are less effective than the ones developed in the US.

This comes after the US Senate passed a mammoth package earlier this month to provide funding for the National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Senate legislation also includes provisions to increase diplomatic pressure on China, such as mandating a diplomatic boycott at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

In May, the Senate voted 84-11 to move ahead with the Endless Frontiers Act introduced by Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, which seeks up to USD 100 billion over five years for basic and advanced tech research and another USD 10 billion to create new technology hubs across the country.

Under the former President Donald Trump’s administration, ties between the two countries had deteriorated over issues such as human rights violations in Xinjiang, encroachment on the special status of Hong Kong, accusations of unfair trade practices by Beijing, lack of transparency concerning the pandemic and China’s military aggression in various parts of the world. (ANI)

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