Biden infrastructure proposal prioritizes funds for emerging technologies
President Biden’s newly unveiled infrastructure proposal includes billions of dollars in proposed funding to invest in “technologies of the future,” with a particular focus on ensuring the U.S. can compete on the global stage against countries such as China.
The proposed investment package, which totals around $2.25 trillion, proposes that over $180 billion be set aside for enhancing research and development of new and emerging technologies, along with addressing racial and gender inequalities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“President Biden is calling on Congress to make smart investments in research and development, manufacturing and regional economic development, and in workforce development to give our workers and companies the tools and training they need to compete on the global stage,” the plan released by the White House reads.
The plan includes asking Congress to appropriate $50 billion to allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a technology directorate, which would research issues including semiconductors, biotechnology and advanced computing.
“We are one of the few major economies whose public investments in research and development have declined as a percent of GDP in the past 25 years,” the proposal reads. “Countries like China are investing aggressively in R&D, and China now ranks number two in the world in R&D expenditures.
“In order to win the 21st century economy, President Biden believes America must get back to investing in the researchers, laboratories, and universities across our nation,” it adds.
In addition, Biden asked Congress to provide $30 billion to spur research and development in rural areas and job growth, along with $40 billion for upgrading research facilities and infrastructure nationwide. Half of the $40 billion will be reserved for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other minority institutions, along with funding for a national climate lab at an HBCU.
Biden proposed an additional $55 billion for ensuring the U.S. can lead on climate science research and development, and $25 billion to prioritize research and development efforts at HBCUs, such as through the creation of 200 centers of excellence for research efforts at HBCUs and other minority institutions.
The plan comes amid intense bipartisan focus on Capitol Hill around funding research and development around emerging technologies in order to compete with China.
Biden’s proposed $50 billion for the National Science Foundation is half of what Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) proposed last year in the bipartisan Endless Frontiers Act.
The legislation is at the core of Schumer’s renewed effort to compete with China, with the Senate leader announcing last month that he had directed all relevant Senate committee chairs to begin work on a legislative proposal around enhancing U.S. technology efforts.
While several leading Republicans criticized the overall package on Wednesday, Schumer said in a statement that he “looks forward to working with President Biden to pass a big, bold plan that will drive America forward for decades to come.”