Thune and Nelson Applaud Senate Passage of the National Quantum Initiative Act

December 14, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, applauded Senate passage of H.R. 6227, the National Quantum Initiative Act, by unanimous consent last night with a Thune-Nelson substitute amendment. The legislation, which is the House companion of S. 3143, introduced by Thune and Nelson and approved by the Commerce Committee earlier this year, will develop and accelerate quantum science in the United States and help secure leadership in the field as other nations are developing their own quantum programs. The race to develop applications of quantum technologies has implications for both national security and economic competitiveness.

“Establishing a national quantum program is essential to maintaining our position as global leaders in science and technology,” said Thune. “I appreciate Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson for working with me, Sen. Nelson, Sen. Murkowski, and Sen. Cantwell to finalize text of a bill with support in both chambers that should make it to the President’s desk before year’s end.” 

"Establishing a national quantum science initiative will ensure the U.S. remains at the forefront of scientific research and technology development," said Nelson.  "I was pleased to join with colleagues from across the aisle to advance this important legislation.”

Highlights of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018:

  • Accelerate Research – Establishes the National Quantum Initiative Program to speed quantum research and development and technology applications over the next ten years. 
  • Establish Interagency Coordination – Authorizes a National Quantum Coordination Office and an interagency Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to oversee interagency coordination, provide strategic planning support, serve as a central point of contact for stakeholders, conduct outreach, and promote commercialization of federal research by the private sector.  
  • Support Standards Activities – Supports quantum information science research, measurement, and standards development, including a 5-year allocation of up to $80 million per year.
  • Establish Research and Education Centers – Sets up National Science Foundation-sponsored multidisciplinary quantum research and education centers including a 5-year allocation of up to $10 million per center per year.
  • Encourage Private Sector Involvement – Encourages U.S. high-tech companies and startups to contribute knowledge and resources to a national effort. 
  • Establish National Research Centers – Establishes Department of Energy national research centers, including a 5-year allocation of up to $25 million per center per year. 

Quantum science exploits certain principles of quantum physics, such as the ability of subatomic particles to exist in multiple states simultaneously, for valuable, real-world applications. Scientists believe quantum phenomena will enable future quantum computers to perform complex calculations at speeds that are potentially millions of times faster than today’s most advanced supercomputers.  Applications of this technology will also have a profound impact on communication security, navigation, imaging, and many other technologies that are not otherwise possible with conventional systems.

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) are the lead cosponsors of H.R. 6227. Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) authored provisions establishing new requirements within the Department of Energy included in the Senate-passed bill. Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are cosponsors of the Senate version of the legislation introduced by Thune and Nelson. 

Click here for the full text of H.R. 6227, the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018, as amended by the Thune-Nelson substitute.