Research community leaders warned the House Science Committee last week that the U.S. could face an acute shortage or oversupply of STEM workers if it does not carefully manage investments in R&D, remain welcoming to international talent, and better develop its domestic workforce.
Energy R&D has emerged as a focal point for bipartisan collaboration in the new Congress. At recent hearings, lawmakers heard testimony in favor of large spending increases spread across a variety of technologies.
By the end of this week, the House will have held more than a dozen hearings focused on climate change. The House Science Committee’s first hearing on the subject under its new Democratic leadership showcased a different dynamic from ones in recent Congresses, with little dissension over climate science and both parties calling for investment in clean energy technology.
Over the past two years, Congress passed legislation updating and endorsing a wide range of federal R&D activities, including marquee bills focused on quantum information science, energy research, weather forecasting, and hazard preparedness.
The enactment of the National Quantum Initiative Act on Dec. 21 creates a multiagency program spanning the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, and Department of Energy. As part of the initiative, NSF and DOE will each establish between two and five competitively awarded research centers.
The 2018 midterm election’s immediate effects on federal science policy will manifest primarily through changes in the composition of congressional committees, with the Democratic takeover of the House bringing new leadership to science policy and spending panels.
Congress sent two bills to the president last week that provide policy direction to the Department of Energy Office of Science and Office of Nuclear Energy, respectively. The House also passed legislation to establish a National Quantum Initiative, which now awaits action in the Senate.
At a July hearing, the House Science Committee discussed promising applications of machine learning techniques to scientific research and the Department of Energy’s role in supporting advanced computing infrastructure.