With a dwindling number of days in this year’s legislative calendar and high-priority items to consider before August recess, Congress faces a slew of new science, technology and artificial intelligence bills.
Since our last legislative roundup on June 9, members have introduced 12 new measures that either directly address, or have strong implications for, AI and national security. Here’s a guide:
- S. 3933 and H.R. 7178, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act
On June 10, Senators Cornyn and Warner led four of their colleagues in introducing S. 3933, the CHIPS for America Act,, to support semiconductor research, development and manufacturing in the United States. Among other provisions, the bipartisan bill:
- Provides a 40 percent investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing and facility investments through 2024;
- Directs the Department of Commerce to create a $10 billion federal grant program to match state and local incentives for companies building advanced manufacturing semiconductor fabrication facilities in the United States;
- Establishes a new $50 million semiconductor program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support advanced manufacturing, STEM workforce development and ecosystem clustering in America;
- Authorizes Department of Defense funding to support development of domestic semiconductor production capabilities;
- Creates a $750 million, ten-year trust fund to support partnerships with allies increasing microelectronic supply chain transparency and promoting consistent microelectronics policies;
- Provides $12 billion in semiconductor research and development funding across DOD, Commerce, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy; and
- Directs the President to establish a National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on Semiconductor Leadership to develop a strategy for ensuring U.S. leadership in semiconductor technology and innovation.
On June 11, House Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul and three of his colleagues introduced bipartisan companion legislation.
- S. 3952, the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act
On June 11, Senators Van Hollen and Sasse introduced S. 3952, the bipartisan Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, to impose sanctions on individuals and entities that engage in trade theft against the United States. It would require the President to report every six months on individuals or firms that have “engaged in, benefitted from, or materially assisted the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets,” and impose property blocking, denial order or visa sanctions against such firms and individuals.
- H.R. 7156, STEM Education Recruitment by Valuing Increased Community Engagement (SERVICE) Act of 2020
On June 11, Congressman Brown introduced the SERVICE Act of 2020 to promote greater participation among Department of Defense contractors in STEM education activities. It would direct the Secretary of Defense to partner with contractors in supporting internships for STEM talent in areas critical to national security, cooperative work-education programs and STEM recruitment activities at minority-serving institutions.
- H.R. 7181, the Holding China Accountable Act
On June 11, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Nunes and 22 of his colleagues introduced H.R. 7181, the Holding China Accountable Act. It would institute new accounting and reporting standards for Chinese firms in U.S. markets and prohibit Chinese nationals from visiting the United States to participate in STEM-related activities, such as education, employment, business conferences or academic exchanges.
- H.R. 7224, the End Chinese Communist Citizenship Act
On June 15, Congressman Reschenthaler introduced H.R. 7224, the End Chinese Communist Citizenship Act, to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from becoming legal permanent residents of the United States. The Immigration and Nationality Act currently prohibits members of communist or totalitarian parties from obtaining green cards, but this bill would explicitly bar CCP members and eliminate current exceptions allowing former party members or party members related to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents to obtain LPR status.
- S. 3965, the Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act
On June 16, Senate AI Caucus co-founders and co-chairs Senators Heinrich and Portman introduced the Artificial Intelligence for the Armed Forces Act. Inspired by recent recommendations of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, this bipartisan bill seeks to bolster the development of AI and cyber expertise in DOD by:
- Ensuring that the Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is a three-star equivalent and establishing direct report authority to the Secretary of Defense;
- Requiring the development of a training and certification program on AI and cyber for DOD human resource professionals;
- Directing the Secretary of Defense to issue guidance on how DOD can better use direct hire authority to bring AI professionals on board;
- Authorizing officers with a grade of major general or above, and civilians with equivalent authority, to waive GS requirements for exceptional AI talent; and
- Establishing a computational assessment as part of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam to identify potential AI talent.
- H.R. 7256, the National Security Innovation Pathway Act
On June 17, House Armed Services Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee Chairman Langevin and Ranking Member Stefanik introduced the National Security Innovation Pathway Act. This bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Department of Defense, to grant special immigrant status to foreign nationals working in science and technology areas critical to national security, as well as their spouse and children. It provides such status for up to 100 individuals (excluding spouses and children) in fiscal year 2021, increasing to 500 individuals in FY2025 and each year thereafter. The Department of Homeland Security will collect a $2,000 fee for each applicant, 25 percent of which will fund scholarships for U.S. students through DOD’s Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program.
- S. 3996, a bill to amend the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1979, relating to the conduct of knowledge diplomacy
On June 18, Senator Portman introduced S. 3996, a bill to amend the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1979, relating to the conduct of knowledge diplomacy, to address research security vulnerabilities in United States—foreign scientific partnerships. Among other provisions, it:
- Establishes as U.S. policy that international scientific cooperation agreements should ensure that the flow of information between the United States and its partners is equitable and that foreign partners adhere to standards of openness and integrity;
- Directs the Secretary of State to identify and address vulnerabilities in international scientific cooperation agreements that may place U.S.-funded research at risk; and
- Requires a biennial reporting on vulnerabilities across international scientific cooperation agreements and measures taken to address such vulnerabilities.
- S. 3997, the Safeguard American Innovation Act
On June 18, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Chairman Portman and Ranking Member Carper led a bipartisan group of 15 senators in introducing the Safeguard American Innovation Act. It establishes an interagency Federal Research Security Council charged with developing policies and guidance to govern federally funded research and development grants and “protect the national and economic security interest of the United States.” The bill stems from a series of investigations led by Senators Portman and Carper into security threats China poses to the U.S. technology and research enterprise.
- H.R. 7275, to direct the Secretary of Defense to establish a National Security Innovation Network, and for other purposes
On June 18, Congresswoman Slotkin introduced H.R. 7275. The bipartisan measure elevates the existing National Security Innovation Network program office—currently housed within the Defense Innovation Unit—to report directly to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering or a similarly senior official and authorizes $50 million for NSIN-supported activities. The program office is directed to support innovation networks connecting DOD to academic institutions, commercial innovation hubs and other nonprofit entities working on relevant national security problems, facilitate temporary or permanent DOD employment for STEM talent and expand and accelerate developments in the national security innovation base.
- Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, House Armed Services Committee
On June 22 and June 23, each of the House Armed Services subcommittees approved their marks for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Several subcommittee marks included provisions relevant to DOD’s development of AI. Among a number of AI-related provisions, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities mark:
- Mandates that the U.S. Comptroller General provide Congress with an assessment of DOD’s resources, capabilities and plans with respect to AI;
- Assigns responsibility for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and elevates the JAIC Director to report to the Deputy Secretary of Defense;
- Requires the development of standard data formats and establishment of cooperative agreements for data sharing within DOD;
- Establishes a JAIC Board of Directors — composed of DOD officials and outside experts — to provide strategic guidance to the JAIC Director;
- Requires the Director of National Intelligence and Secretary of Defense to report on ties between China and Russia, including scientific and technical educational and professional exchange programs;
- Directs DOD to identify datasets it could release publicly to support advanced analytical work; and
- Requires a report on the implementation of Cyber Excepted Service authorities to recruit technical talent, including individuals with expertise in AI, machine learning and other data science fields.
The Strategic Forces Subcommittee mark:
- Requires a report on challenges in onboarding non-traditional space companies and technology, including AI applications, to support DOD space operations;
- Mandates a report on innovations in National Security Space Launch mission assurance, including through the use of AI capabilities; and
- Directs the U.S. Comptroller General to report on the extent to which DOD has considered AI’s implications for the nuclear enterprise.
The Personnel Subcommittee mark authorizes the Secretary of Defense to establish a grant program for STEM education in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units, a concept outlined in bipartisan, bicameral legislation recently introduced by Congressman Brown and Senator Rosen.
The Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee mark prohibits funding to procure a large unmanned surface vessel until the Secretary of the Navy certifies the vehicle’s technological readiness and presents a developed command and control plan. The measure further prohibits integration of any offensive weapon system into the vessel until DOD can show that it will comply with the law of armed conflict.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the FY2021 NDAA on June 10. Among other provisions, it tasks the Secretary of Defense with prototyping five uses of AI to support personnel and management functions, requires an analysis of efforts by China and the United States to recruit and retain STEM talent and allocates $132 million to Joint AI Center operational systems development.