Space and Science

Maryland is home to some of the finest institutions of cutting-edge research, innovation, and discovery in the United States and throughout the world. Marylanders are leading the charge to explore the cosmos, cure disease, and keep our nation competitive in the world economy. Senator Van Hollen is working hand-in-hand with experts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, manufacturing, and beyond to support their push toward new boundaries of research and explore new frontiers of innovation. 

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen has repeatedly called for increased funding for the landmark research institutions that line our state and move our country forward, and he has collaborated with colleagues to secure that funding in the annual federal budget. Those efforts have helped Maryland workers at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Prince George’s County and NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia explore the boundaries of space. Senator Van Hollen has also supported increased federal funding for many other partners involved in our space programs including the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). STScI is currently managing the newly-launched James Webb Telescope, a project Senator Van Hollen has championed for years.

The Senator has consistently rallied support for increased federal resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which have both been on the front lines of fighting to beat this pandemic and at the vanguard of developing new treatments and therapies to eradicate diseases that impact virtually every American family – including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Senator Van Hollen is working with colleagues to leverage the full power of American research, medicine, and innovation to make a quantum leap forward in our fight to defeat these diseases once and for all. He has met with President Biden to discuss advancing these efforts by launching the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), and he is working with leaders on the ground at NIH and FDA to make that vision a reality. In addition, Senator Van Hollen worked with his colleagues in the Maryland congressional delegation, including the late, great Congressman Elijah Cummings, to pass the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act through Congress, and that legislation is now the law of the land.                                                                                                                     

Senator Van Hollen is also a vocal ambassador in our nation’s capital for the men and women who work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – both of which are based in Maryland. These federal researchers are at the heart of efforts to conserve our natural treasures like the Chesapeake Bay, fight climate change, power American manufacturing, and uncover new scientific discoveries. 

All of these institutions, from NIH to NIST, are working on the leading edge of innovation, which helps spread prosperity to communities across Maryland and across the country. But we must do more to keep America competitive in the 21stcentury. When it comes to technology, standing still means falling behind. That’s why Senator Van Hollen helped craft and pass the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competition Act. That legislation will help boost innovation, fund key research institutions like NIST, secure America’s supply chain to grow manufacturing and cut costs, and create jobs in Maryland. It will also help curtail the theft of trade secrets and meet the rising global challenge of China. Senator Van Hollen authored a number of vital measures within this package – including provisions to prevent the theft of key U.S. technologies and identify the most important challenges in science and technology that we must tackle

That legislation also includes provisions that will advance Senator Van Hollen’s effort to bring more diversity to the pipeline for scientific careers. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act creates a new grant program at the National Science Foundation to support research activity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). That provision will help build research capacity at Maryland’s four HBCUs and MSIs and nurture innovation at peer institutions across the nation. Crucially, the competition bill also creates a two-year pilot program to award grants to researchers early in their careers, with priority given to researchers from backgrounds underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To complement this effort, Senator Van Hollen has fought for increased funding to support STEM education through his role on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is also pushing for the passage of the National Fab Lab Network Act to give students and entrepreneurs greater access to make spaces with cutting-edge fabrication technologies like 3-D printers and laser cutters. 

The history of our state and our country has been written by the brave men and women who summoned the courage to push us toward new horizons in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, research, and innovation. Senator Van Hollen strongly believes that our generation has a duty to carry that torch forward, and he’s working with experts in Maryland and colleagues in Washington to achieve that goal.