CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1736 on Monday, June 8, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 1736 was introduced on March 26, 2009, by Rep. Baird (D-WA) and referred to the Committee on Science and Technology, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on April 29, 2009.
H.R. 1736 would establish a committee within the National Science and Technology Council responsible for identifying and coordinating international science and technology cooperation that can "strengthen the United States science and technology enterprise, improve economic and national security, and support United States foreign policy goals."
Specifically, the committee would be required to:
The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy would be required to report to Congress annually, describing the priorities and policies established by the committee, and all ongoing and new partnerships.
According to House Report 111-128, the National Science Board (NSB) issued a 2008 report, "International Science and Engineering Partnerships: A Priority for U.S. Foreign Policy and our Nation's Innovation Agenda," wherein the NSB made recommendations for increasing coordination of federal science and technologies programs. Among the recommendations, the NSB recommended the reestablishment of a Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology. The committee existed in the 1990s to review science programs carried out by agencies of the U.S. government and to identify opportunities for international collaboration.
In April, 2009, Norman Neureiter, the first Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State and a witness at H.R. 1736's hearings, wrote that science and technology cooperation can be used as an effective tool of non-political power in foreign policy. However, Neureiter notes that the committee had become "essentially inactive" by 2001, and was deemed unnecessary and was not reestablished. Neureiter, who supports reestablishing the committee, states that "to be successful, [the] Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology must be well staffed and have a clearly defined role." Dr. John H. Marburger III, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, testified in hearings that in during the past eight years without the Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology, coordinating of international science and technology partnerships was done by drawing agencies together in meetings focused on specific science topics.
According to CBO, H.R. 1736 would cost about $3 million annually to reestablish the Committee on International Science, Engineering and Technology within the Office of Science and Technology Policy.