May 20, 2021

Van Hollen, Blunt Announce Inclusion of National SEAL Act in Broader China Competition Bill

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) announced the inclusion of their bipartisan proposal to ensure U.S. leadership in discovery and innovation and to strengthen the United States’ competitive edge against China and across the global economy within the Endless Frontier Act. Their original legislation, the National Strategy to Ensure American Leadership (SEAL) Act, called on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to identify the top emerging science and technology challenges and provide recommendations to ensure the United States remains competitive and secure in the global economy. Both Senators Van Hollen and Blunt are original cosponsors of the Endless Frontier Act.

“To create good-paying jobs and strengthen our ability to compete in a rapidly changing global economy, the United States must stay at the forefront of innovation and technology. We cannot afford complacency as the Chinese government works to implement its plan to achieve global dominance in certain key technology areas as part of its larger strategy to expand its influence and export its authoritarian model around the world. We must work urgently to not only identify and address areas where we’re falling behind but also establish a blueprint for the future. Our proposal – and the broader Endless Frontier Act – will give us the tools to do just that. I was glad to work alongside Senator Blunt to secure this provision in the Endless Frontier Act, and we will continue working to ensure it gets across the finish line,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“If we don’t take action today our nation could lose its role as a global leader in researching and developing the technologies of tomorrow,” said Senator Blunt. “China and other countries continue to increase investments in innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and other areas that have significant national and economic security implications. This bill will ensure the U.S. invests the funding needed to stay ahead of the curve and remain a leader in research and development of emerging technologies.” 


In 1960, the United States contributed to 69% of global research and development investments, but by 2018, we accounted for just 27.6% of investments. Nations across the world are increasing their research footprints, and we run the risk of falling behind in a number of scientific endeavors like 5G mobile networks, artificial intelligence, and biotechnologies. As China continues to increase its research and development investments and corners markets on disruptive technologies, the United States must safeguard its role as a leader in cutting-edge science and innovation. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2005 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” rang the warning bell about our nation’s eroding competitiveness and highlighted critical steps to enhance the research enterprise and STEM education. Now, we must think beyond the technologies of today to the ideas of tomorrow.

The National Seal Act would direct the Secretary of Commerce to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to identify the ten most critical emerging science and technology challenges facing the United States and make recommendations for legislative or administrative action to ensure U.S. leadership in those areas.

The following organizations support this legislation: American Astronomical Society, American Mathematical Society, Carnegie Institution for Science, CTIA, National Photonics Initiative, and TechNet.

Upon introduction these organizations said:

“Our nation’s prosperity and security have been built on the foundation of our longstanding scientific excellence. The National SEAL Act will be an important step toward strengthening this country’s global leadership in science and technology and building new generations of exceptional American scientists.” – Eric D. Isaacs, President of the Carnegie Institution for Science

“The American Mathematical Society is grateful to Senators Blunt and Van Hollen for their leadership ensuring that the U.S. continues as a global leader addressing current and future societal problems through science and technology. Identifying challenges will help garner research investment and generate enthusiasm for scientific discovery. Fundamental research of today will lead to critically important technologies of the future. Mathematics will continue to inform about the necessary foundational research that so much advanced technology relies on, and we are thus pleased to endorse the National SEAL Act.” – Karen Saxe, Associate Executive Director and Head of Government Affairs of the American Mathematical Society

“The National Photonics Initiative (NPI) strongly supports the National SEAL Act. This legislation will ensure the federal government is taking the long view on U.S. science and technology priorities. This is essential if the U.S. is going to stay competitive in critical technology areas, many of which are enabled by optics and photonics such as quantum and artificial intelligence. We look forward to working with Senators Van Hollen and Blunt to enact this critical legislation.” – National Photonics Initiative

“Right now, China is competing with the U.S. to become the global leader on emerging technologies like 5G, quantum computing, AI, and autonomous vehicles. For our national and economic security, we cannot let them win. The United States must develop and implement a national coordinated strategy, coupled with substantial federal investment, to win the race against China and other nations so that our values are infused into these emerging technologies. The bipartisan National SEAL Act will help spur innovation and ensure the U.S. remains a global leader.” – Peter Chandler, TechNet’s Vice President of Federal Policy and Government Relations