Dear Chair Cantwell, Chair Johnson, Ranking Member Wicker, and Ranking Member Lucas:
As the Conference Committee convenes to reconcile the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521) and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) (S. 1260), we write in opposition to provisions which would hamstring future research funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy (DOE) with a high, fixed allocation through Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) activities.
As you know, provisions in the Senate passed USICA would set aside 20 percent of the total NSF budget for EPSCoR states as well as 20 percent of funds authorized for DOE and the NSF Directorate for Technology and Innovation. We strongly oppose such provisions, which would leave behind emerging research institutions in non-EPSCoR states. Arbitrarily walling off a sizable percentage of a science agency's budget from a sizable majority of the country's research institutions would fundamentally reduce the entire nation's scientific capacity and damage the research profiles of existing institutions -- contrary to the goals of both USICA and the COMPETES Act.
For the United States to maintain and expand its innovation leadership, developing the total pool of research enterprises is essential. We must prioritize fostering scientific talent and developing new technologies. If large portions of science agency budgets are off limits to these institutions, innovative research in our states would be compromised.
We urge you to ensure that the final bill broadens participation in our world-class research ecosystem and to support policies that elevate research in EPSCoR and non-EPSCoR states alike.