The Senate has passed a bill that, among other things, would ban federal funding for so-called “gain of function” research in China and for the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Overall, it's designed to fight back against China's global dominance ambitions.
The bill is called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act. It has bipartisan support and would have to be passed in the House to go to President Biden's desk to sign into law.
The broad-ranging act is designed to advance America’s global leadership in science and technology and support efforts to outcompete China in key technology areas, says Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss). He's the lead Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It includes about $250 billion in taxpayer funding for scientific research, subsidies for computer chipmakers and robot builders.
The legislation includes numerous bills and amendments that I sponsored to ensure all areas of the country receive a fair opportunity to participate in federally funded R&D and to protect American research and intellectual property from foreign theft.Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss)
According to supporters, other portions of the law would:
- Establish a new Technology Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to drive faster development in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum, and communications and help position the U.S. to turn cutting-edge research into game-changing commercial products and services to outpace China.
- Provide strong new safeguards to protect U.S. research and intellectual property from theft by China and other foreign nations.
- Prohibit all federal science employees from participating in foreign government talent programs often used to steal research and development (R&D) and intellectual property.
- Ban federal science funds from going to researchers who are part of Chinese, Russian, North Korean, or Iranian talent programs.
- Direct the Department of Commerce to develop a robust civil space situational awareness architecture and basic space traffic management capability to protect space commerce and ensure the future usability of space.
- Authorize the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) human spaceflight and exploration efforts to return American astronauts to the moon and prepare for future journeys to Mars.
- Create a grant program through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that would award $100 million in grants to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions to develop job training programs to educate and train students to participate in the telecommunications workforce.
- Improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and training access in rural communities.
Click on the link below to read the proposed law: