Two U.S. Senators, Republican John Thune and Democrat Margaret Wood, have introduced two bill in the U.S. Senate to support quantum research and workforce development. The first bill, S.1197 known as the QUANTUM for National Security Act of 2021, would direct the Department of Defense to undertake several actions including:

  • Public-Private Talent Exchange to exchange DoD research personnel with private sector entities working on QIS and computing technology research
  • A pilot program to increase the pool of participants in the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Defense Education Program
  • A Fellowship program to encourages graduate-level fellows to work with the Defense QIS and Technology Research Program,
  • Express support that the Defense QIS and Technology Research Program should receive increased funding and encourages university partnerships that encourage multidisciplinary courses of study
  • Re-designate the DoD QIS and Technology Research Program as part of the National Quantum Initiative

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services for consideration. A one-page summary of this bill can be found on Senator Thune’s website here and one can track the status of the bill on the U.S. Congress website here.

The second bill, S.1161 known as the Quantum Network Infrastructure and Workforce Development Act of 2021, contains several directives for the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). These include:

  • Conducting research on the development and standardization of quantum networking and communications technology and applications
  • Establishes a program to utilize the Energy Sciences Network at the Department of Energy and conduct quantum network testing to advance development of communications technology and quantum networking
  • Lays out a directive for the National Science Foundation to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to conduct a study for the purpose of preparing students to participate in the quantum workforce
  • Directs the National Science Foundation to prioritize the integration of quantum information science and engineering (QISE) into the STEM curriculum for each grade level from K-12
  • Establishes the “Next Generation Quantum Leaders Pilot Program” to support the education and training of the next generation of students in the principles of quantum mechanics. This section also directs the NSF to prioritize tribal and rural schools in its consideration of pilot program applicants.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for consideration. A one-page summary of this bill can be found on Senator Thune’s website here and one can track the status of the bill on the U.S. Congress website here.

For a bill to become law in the United States, it must be passed by both the House and the Senate and then signed by the President. Perhaps complicating the issue is that two different bills were introduced in the House last month, H.R. 1837, QUEST Act of 2021 (Quantum User Expansion for Science and Technology) and also H.R. 1866, the Quantum Network Infrastructure Act of 2021. Each of these bills could be combined with another one, dismissed or passed to become law. So it remains to be seen what will happen to all these bills.

April 19, 2021