Alexander's Bipartisan Energy COMPETES Reauthorization and Supercomputing Legislation Included in Bipartisan Senate Energy Package

Legislation would reauthorize basic energy research programs and create partnerships to develop exascale supercomputers

Posted on July 22, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that two pieces of bipartisan legislation, of which he is the primary author, the Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 and the ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2015, are included in a broad bipartisan energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, introduced today by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“I commend Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Cantwell’s work in crafting a bipartisan energy bill that includes provisions that would reauthorize key basic energy research programs and jumpstart research into exascale computing,” Alexander said. “It is imperative that the United States maintain its brainpower advantage to create an abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy to fuel innovation in our free enterprise system.”

Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Murkowski and Cantwell announced they will begin consideration of this energy package in committee as early as this week.

Alexander introduced the Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act and the ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act legislation earlier this year.

Alexander said of The Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act:

“Governing is about setting priorities, and this legislation will put us on a path to double basic energy research – one of the best ways to keep good-paying jobs from going overseas – while streamlining basic energy research programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. As researchers have told me, it’s hard to think of an important technological advance since World War II that has not involved at least some government-sponsored research.”

The Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 is legislation that would reauthorize basic energy research programs and accomplishes three of the major goals of the America COMPETES Act Alexander and other senators have supported in previous congresses. It would:

    • Authorize a 4 percent increase in funding each year for basic energy research, and reauthorize for five years the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and ARPA-E, an agency that supports research in energy technology. The legislation would put the U.S. Department of Energy on a path toward doubling the roughly $5 billion it spends on basic energy research.
    • Eliminate six Department of Energy programs that were never fully implemented, and reform five other Department of Energy programs.
    • Attract and keep the country’s most talented scientists through competitive grant programs funded through the Department of Energy.

Alexander said of the ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2015:

“Supercomputing is essential to U.S. national security, competitiveness in science and technology and the ability of our free enterprise system to create the good-paying jobs of the future. It has helped maintain our nuclear stockpile, enabled manufacturers to make better products and even allowed scientists to map the human heart at one beat per second.”‎

The ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2015 would create research partnerships between industry, universities and U.S. Department of Energy’s national labs to research and develop at least two exascale supercomputer architectures, with the goal of having a fully operational computer system that has reached “exascale” – a measure of speed that is beyond any other system in the world – by 2023. It authorizes funding for these partnerships and requires the department to provide regular status reports to Congress on the progress of the project.

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