WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today led a letter with U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., to congressional leadership in support of maintaining provisions found in the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) to strengthen the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
As stated in the letter, “Despite the clear benefits and broad support for EPSCoR, severe regional inequities in federal research investment persist. The top six states and the District of Columbia alone receive nearly half of NSF funding. This perpetuates geographic disparities in research capacity, technology development, and economic opportunity.”
USICA grows federal research and development (R&D) funding in key technology areas and includes several set-asides in funding for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy for the 25 states and three territories participating in EPSCoR.
The House-passed companion to USICA, the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act, does not include any of the EPSCoR set-asides from USICA. The Senators are calling on congressional leaders to ensure that these critical provisions remain in the final bill as Congress prepares to reconcile differences between USICA and COMPETES in a formal conference process.
“As senators representing EPSCoR states, this is a high priority for us in this legislation, and we look forward to working with you in getting it over the finish line.”
The letter has the signatures of 39 U.S. Senators which include: Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, John Boozman, R-Ark., Tom Carper, D-Del., Chris Coons, D-Del., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, James Risch, R-Idaho, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Jerry Moran, R-Kans., Roger Marshall, R- Kans., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Angus King, I-Maine, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Mike Rounds, R-.S.D., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., John Kennedy, R-La., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joe Manchin, D-W.V., Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
Read the letter here or below.
Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, and Leader McCarthy:
As you work to resolve differences between the House and Senate technology competitiveness bills (S. 1260 and H.R. 4521), we write to urge you to maintain the several provisions supporting the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) contained in the Senate-passed legislation. These provisions make important set-asides for the 25 states and 3 territories that are currently underserved by federal Research and Development (R&D) programs and that participate in EPSCoR.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched EPSCoR in 1979 to reach states that have historically received a low share of federal research funds with the goal of enhancing their capacity to conduct nationally competitive research. This program has been replicated by other agencies, including the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. However, despite the clear benefits and broad support for EPSCoR, severe regional inequities in federal research investment persist. The top six states and the District of Columbia alone receive nearly half of NSF funding. This perpetuates geographic disparities in research capacity, technology development, and economic opportunity.
The United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), passed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis, will help address this imbalance by setting aside for EPSCoR jurisdictions 20% of funds provided to NSF – including for research, scholarships and fellowships, and a new Directorate for Technology and Innovation – and 20% of additionally authorized research funds for the Department of Energy. These allocations will ensure that investments in R&D and technology development will increase the capacity and harness talent for innovation in all corners of the United States. At the same time, the significant increases in R&D funding authorized under USICA will bolster the entire research enterprise of the country and continue to support states that traditionally receive high levels of federal research dollars.
As you negotiate final legislation to improve U.S. competiveness, we urge you to incorporate the Senate EPSCoR provisions into the final bill. As senators representing EPSCoR states, this is a high priority for us in this legislation, and we look forward to working with you in getting it over the finish line.