This briefing provides an update on energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in the federal fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process, building on ITIF’s summary of the administration’s budget request. It compares the House Energy & Water appropriations bill with the request, and identifies what to look for, particularly in the Senate, as negotiations over the budget resume after Congress returns from recess.
These degrees cost money. The U.S. has over 44 million people who owe an average of $29,000 in student loans, exceeding $1.5 trillion in combined student loan debt. With this in mind, why would the federal government, through an executive order no less, implement the F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Visa, which allows over 250,000 foreign students to remain in the U.S. and work in STEM jobs? Moreover, why would the federal government give financial incentives to hire these foreign students over American students with the degrees and skills?
Inventors like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla obtained patents to protect their many inventions, which in turn grew the U.S. economy. Today their inventions would easily be dismissed by courts as not even eligible for patenting. The lightbulb and alternating current generators would be characterized as either abstract, a law of nature or a building block of technology. Modern critics would minimize the magnitude of their inventions by saying that these great inventors simply had a good idea and told the world to apply it.
The nonprofit Girls Who Code is working with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) on legislation that would require schools receiving federal funding for computer science programs to disclose to the Department of Education the number and percentage of students who participate in computer science courses, as well as their gender, race and more.
Veterans already benefit from GI Bill funds to help them earn college degrees. But limitations in the program can make it difficult to complete degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields while retaining those benefits.
Sen. Smith is pushing the legislation, because right now there are not enough teachers to meet the demand in all locations and in all fields, resulting in teacher shortages. More than 40 percent of the nation’s small, rural school districts struggle with adequately staffing their schools, and shortages are most acute in certain subject areas. There is a growing need for STEM, foreign language and special education teachers.
The Stronger Patents Act helps move the patent system back toward inventors by clarifying the rules around an open-ended administrative patent court that Congress created in 2011. Since the creation of the new administrative court, the administrative boondoggle has been used by infringers, crony interests, and Big Tech to help stifle innovation and harm inventors.
The first bill introduced by Michigan Congresswoman Haley Stevens is now her first piece of legislation passed by the House. The Building Blocks of STEM Act, which passed the House Tuesday, directs the National Science Foundation to more equitably allocate funding for research with a focus on early childhood. The bill also directs the foundation to support research on the factors that discourage or encourage girls to engage in STEM activities.
Lawmakers have to create a policy that is “sufficiently agile to accommodate new uses of data that none of us can even conceive of right now,” said Ernest & Young Americas Privacy Leader Angela Saverice-Rohan. Privacy standards are dependent on shifting cultural norms and constantly evolving technology, Saverice-Rohan said, and so Congress should focus on allowing context-dependent consumer choice.
Closing the broadband gap has proved tricky because private internet providers often don’t have financial incentives to build broadband infrastructure over long distances in sparsely populated areas. Some technologists believe the super-fast next generation of wireless technology, 5G, could provide a solution. But there are many skeptics who worry that the same business model issues will leave rural America out, possibly widening the digital divide.