A House Appropriations subcommittee late Monday approved the just-released Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2022.

Among the tech-sector highlights in the bill are a 31 percent funding increase for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a 13 percent budget boost for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a ban on several government organizations from doing work with the Chinese government and companies based there.

The bill would provide $1.35 billion of FY2022 funding for NIST – up from $1.03 billion in the current fiscal year. Some of that increase is represented by a $125 million increase in funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program.

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The committee said $938 million of the proposed FY2022 funding for NIST is intended to cover “core NIST research activities, to help advance U.S. competitiveness, economic growth, cybersecurity, and other important efforts.”

On the international front, the appropriations bill would bar the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), NASA, and National Space Council (NSC) from using funds to work with China or any Chinese-owned companies.

For those organizations, the bill states that none of the FY2022 may be used “to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment.”

The bill also aims to fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $9.63 billion for FY2022, up from $8.48 billion in FY2021.

Within that total is an 11 percent increase in research funding, to $7.7 billion, and a 31 percent jump in education and human resources funding, to $1.27 billion. The latter increase will be used “to help broaden participation in STEM research and STEM careers among underrepresented populations,” the committee said.

Overall, the committee said that increased funding for NSF “will foster innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness, including funding for climate science and sustainable research, as well as research on artificial intelligence, quantum information science, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, an many other critical areas.”

Bills separately approved earlier this year in the House and Senate are poised to sharply increase NSF’s research budgets, particularly in the technology arena. In the Senate, the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (USICA), in the primary vehicle for that aim, while in the House the NSF for the Future Act and the Department of Energy Science for the Future Act are running roughly parallel tracks.

The push in Congress to open the spigot on domestic R&D funding fronts will be one of the underlying themes of MerITocracy 2021 American Innovation Forum in November. The Forum will gather Capitol Hill and White House leadership, along with industry visionaries, for creative thinking at the nexus of policy and technology to help solve some of the largest problems facing the United States.

At the top line, the CJS bill would provide $81.3 billion for FY2022, which is an increase of $10.2 billion, or 14 percent, above the FY2021 level.

“This legislation takes critical steps to support economic development, strengthen small businesses and American manufacturers, and fund research on the Earth’s changing climate,” said Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in a statement. “At the same time, the legislation makes our communities safer by funding local law enforcement who deserve our respect as they work in a period of great challenge,” she said.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.