ICYMI: Cantwell Push to Boost Energy Department Research Funding Passes Senate

Commerce Chair fought for a $17 billion increase to accelerate cutting edge work at National Laboratories like PNNL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The landmark United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 (USICA), steered through the Senate by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, includes a $17 billion increase in funding over 5 years for DOE’s cutting edge basic and applied research, development, and deployment activities. Much of this work is performed by DOE’s 17 National Laboratories, including the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) in Washington state, who employ thousands of scientists and maintain one-of-a-kind, world-class research capabilities that are utilized by over 36,000 university and industrial researchers every year. Supercharging this work, particularly energy innovation in areas like energy storage, grid modernization, and carbon capture, is essential to reducing greenhouse gases and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Cantwell has repeatedly called for increased funding for DOE National Laboratories and User Facilities and recently spoke on the Senate floor in support of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) which includes this critical amendment.

This bill includes a massive investment in the NSF budget and in a DOE budget, which is kind of tandem,” said Cantwell. “NSF and DOE, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, have been our key tools for research and development in key areas that keep manufacturing competitive, keep our energy sector competitive, and keep our technology competitive.”

The United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 seeks to advance and solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation through increased investments in the discovery, creation and manufacturing of technology critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.

The Energy Department funding was added by an amendment led by Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) to the USICA when the legislation was revised by the Commerce Committee. In addition to Senator Cantwell (D-WA), the bipartisan amendment was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and John Thune (R-SD).