Congressional Science Committee Leaders Introduce Bills to Advance Quantum Science

June 26, 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, along with U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who serve as the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today announced the introduction of Senate and House companions (S. 3143 and H.R. 6227) of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018. The legislation would accelerate and coordinate public and private quantum science research, standards, and workforce development to give the United States a competitive advantage as China and Europe vie to achieve technological breakthroughs in this field.

“Furthering quantum science has immense economic and national security implications for the United States,” said Thune. “This legislation will establish a national quantum program and keep us ahead of our competitors, including China, in the race to develop technological breakthroughs based on quantum science.”

“Other nations, like China, have seen how our investments in science grow our economy and now seek to emulate us,” said Nelson. “Ensuring the U.S. remains the world leader in breakthrough technologies will take a national commitment to invest in emerging areas of science, like quantum information science.”

“The National Quantum Initiative Act will accelerate the development of quantum information science in the United States and secure our leadership in the quantum sector,” said Smith. “As other nations are rapidly developing their own quantum programs, the U.S. faces the risk of falling behind. This legislation provides a path forward to ensure that the U.S. secures its influence in the next generation of science and technology. I am glad that Senator John Thune has joined me in introducing this legislation, along with our respective Ranking Democrat Committee Members Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and Senator Bill Nelson.

“The bill creates a 10-year federal program that will significantly develop our quantum knowledge. It will bring a whole of government approach to advance QIS to the next level of research and development, while also creating public-private partnerships, leveraging the resources and expertise of government, industry and academia. Through new research facilities and a strong workforce pipeline, students and researchers will have greater resources and opportunities to develop their quantum skills and create the next great computing innovation. There is no doubt quantum technology will revolutionize our world to come. This bill secures American leadership in quantum science and guarantees a first place finish in the great quantum race.”

“I am pleased to co-sponsor the forward-looking National Quantum Initiative Act,” said Johnson. “Advancements in the field of quantum information science promise to revolutionize the way we solve society’s most pressing problems. This legislation will accelerate progress in quantum research and technology development by ensuring interagency coordination and strategic planning with input from stakeholders across the Federal government, academia, and the private sector. At a time when other nations are aggressively investing in this area, this bill is essential if we are to maintain our position as global leaders on quantum.”

Highlights of the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018:

  • Accelerate Research – Establishes the National Quantum Initiative Program to speed quantum research and development 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 authorization of $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 authorization of $50 million per year.
  • Encourage Private Sector Involvement – Encourages U.S. high-tech companies and startups to contribute knowledge and resources to a national effort. 

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.

The House version would also establish Department of Energy national research centers, including a 5-year authorization of $125 million per year.

Click here for the full text of S. 3143 the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.