Following the introduction of the America COMPETES Act of 2022 from the House of Representatives, companion legislation to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which passed the Senate last June, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, released the following statement from Stephen Ezell, vice president of global innovation policy at ITIF:
While there are several important components in the America COMPETES Act of 2022, compared to USICA, it is not adequately focused on the competitiveness challenge from China. To its credit, the bill incorporates the crucial CHIPS Act and its $52 billion funding, authorizes $45 billion to strengthen supply chains, and incorporates an ITIF proposal for a program to support the expansion of technology hubs in the heartland.
But while these initiatives are important, the legislation is not sufficient to enable the United States to win the advanced technology competition with China. The legislation’s extra $10 million funding for NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership falls well short of the tripling the Biden administration has called for (which would require an additional $300 million). The bill authorizes only two new Manufacturing USA Centers, hardly enough given that China is establishing three times as many centers as the United States will have if this bill passes.
Perhaps most disappointing are the National Science Foundation provisions. The provisions follow closely what the science community wants—more money for basic research spent on whatever areas scientists want. The proposed new Directorate for Technology and Innovation is funded at half the levels of USICA and has been given an unrealistically broad mission rather than the more targeted mission in USICA. The bill also leaves out funding for DARPA, which USICA doubles.
Ideally, when the House and Senate bring their respective legislation to conference, policymakers will opt for the stronger provisions envisioned in the Senate legislation, especially as funding levels are concerned.