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House Democrats introduce bill to invest $900 billion in STEM research and education

House Democrats introduce bill to invest $900 billion in STEM research and education
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaBiden seeks to walk fine line with Syria strike Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden 'disappointed' in Senate parliamentarian ruling but 'respects' decision MORE (D-Calif.) and several other House Democrats introduced legislation on Tuesday to invest in and train a technologically proficient workforce for the future.

The 21st Century Jobs Act would invest $900 billion over ten years in research and development efforts around emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and biotechnology, along with prioritizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

It would establish a Federal Institute of Technology (FIT) that would be spread out across the nation at 30 different locations including existing educational facilities, along with promoting STEM education in public schools. 

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Specifically, the bill would help fund computer science courses for K-12 students, carve out scholarships for those pursuing degrees in the STEM fields, allocate $8 billion to train teachers in STEM fields, and create tax incentives for companies to hire individuals who attended a FIT institution or received a STEM scholarship in order to diversify the talent field. 

According to a summary of the bill, it would ultimately create around 3 million new jobs per year, and significantly raise public investment in research and development, helping the U.S. keep pace with other nations on the international stage. 

The bill is also sponsored by Democratic Reps. Nanette Barragán (Calif.), Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneHillicon Valley: Chip order inbound | Biden asks for more time on WeChat | New IoT bill introduced Lawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to allow for increased use of internet-connected devices New state privacy initiatives turn up heat on Congress MORE (Wash.), Dwight EvansDwight (Dewey) EvansSix ways to visualize a divided America House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Will the next coronavirus relief package leave essential workers behind? MORE (Penn.), Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesHouse panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps COVID-19 could complicate Pelosi's path to Speaker next year Democrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins MORE (Conn.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressives fume over Senate setbacks House Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' MORE (Wash.) Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanTim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot Acting chief acknowledges police were unprepared for mob Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (Ohio) and Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoPuerto Rico governor: Congress 'morally obligated' to act on statehood vote Puerto Rico officials hopeful of progress on statehood ER doctor chosen to lead Hispanic Caucus MORE (Fla.), as well as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation NAACP president accuses Trump of having operated under 'white supremacist doctrine' Lawmakers blame SolarWinds hack on 'collective failure' to prioritize cybersecurity MORE (D-Miss.).

Several former Democratic tech-related officials endorsed the bill on Tuesday, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE’s former chief economist Jared Bernstein, who said in a statement that “we’ve got tremendous international catch-up to do in this space, and this proposal is the first I’ve seen that’s scaled to the magnitude of the challenge.”

“Ro Khanna’s 21st Century Jobs Package is advancing an important, ambitious agenda that would both increase economic growth and also help more people benefit from that growth,” Jason FurmanJason FurmanBiden, like most new presidents, will get his shot at economics Our rebounding economy doesn't need more stimulus checks Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit MORE, a professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard University and the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, said in a separate statement.

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“Khanna’s proposal would unleash the largest race to the top in American history as areas around the country compete not to provide tax benefits for private companies but instead to improve education, infrastructure, housing, and the climate for local innovation and development,” Furman added. 

Investment in developing technologies and in STEM education and workforce has been a rare topic of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Sens. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenDemocratic senator demands Rand Paul wear a mask on Senate floor Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders 'stand down' to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-Nev.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) introduced legislation in September to provide $50 million to help small and medium-sized businesses hire and train professionals in the STEM field, particularly those who are female, Black or Latino or from rural areas.

A bipartisan group of senators led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerThe bizarre back story of the filibuster Hillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill MORE (D-N.Y.) introduced a separate bill in May that would funnel $100 billion over five years into U.S. science and technology research. 

The Trump administration has also zeroed in on promoting investment in emerging science and technology fields. 

The U.S. and the United Kingdom signed a formal agreement last month to promote cooperation on AI development, while the administration announced in August it would funnel over $1 billion over the next five years into funding new research institutes focused on AI and quantum computing development.