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Research funding

APA-supported legislation for investment in research and development passes Senate

After weeks of amendments to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the Senate, in a bipartisan vote, passed bills increasing science and technology spending.

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American Psychological Association. (2021, August 6). APA-supported legislation for investment in research and development passes Senate.

The legislative package, including the Endless Frontier Act (S.1260) that authorizes unprecedented increases in research and development around key scientific topics, was passed by the U.S. Senate (68-32) after undergoing substantial amendments. Among other provisions, the bill aims to strengthen American research and development capacity in several critical areas, including artificial intelligence (AI), advanced manufacturing, and natural disaster prevention through the creation of a Directorate for Technology and Innovation at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The measure has seen considerable modifications since first introduced by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and now includes increased funding for the Departments of Energy and Commerce, a reallocation of funds initially proposed for the NSF Technology Directorate.

APA will be working to emphasize that research in the social, behavioral, and psychological sciences is an essential component of the new NSF directorate. Psychologists conduct basic and applied research that is relevant to nearly all of the areas the new directorate will focus on, including research on the social and ethical consequences of technology, algorithmic bias, security and privacy, trust, and human-automation interaction. Psychological science is also vital in preparing for the future of work, conducting research on how emerging technologies impact people, and understanding how tech can further our pursuit of basic human phenomena.

This expansive Senate legislation also incorporates various standalone bills. Provisions include the AI Scholarship-For-Service Act, the Rural STEM Education Act, and the Supporting Early Career Researchers Act. During APA’s Science Advocacy Summit in May, researchers advocated for the Supporting Early Career Researchers Act, which authorized NSF to create a two-year early-career scientist fellowship that will broaden participation and further support for junior researchers disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. It remains uncertain if the House will entertain the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, as the lower chamber has similar bills of its own.

For more information, contact Joseph Keller.