Soto Announces Appropriations Wins for Central Florida

July 31, 2020
Press Release
Funds expansion of Florida space innovation, invests in emerging technologies

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) announced appropriations wins for Central Florida included in H.R. 7617, the second “minibus” of fiscal year 2021 spending bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Service and General Government, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. 

 “For years, we’ve seen how emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, improve the lives of so many while serving as enablers of social, economic and environmental growth,” said Rep. Soto. “While most technological advances have remained overlooked by other policymakers, I take pride in fostering an active role to secure millions of dollars to help every aspect of our government meet the needs of the 21st century. Unleashing American innovation also means building off of decades of success and guiding our space market to new frontiers of the world. With my provisions to encourage the use of domestic launch partners, there is no doubt in my mind that Florida will lead America to infinite possibilities. I’m proud to secure these wins on behalf of Central Floridians and I look forward to seeing America continue its path of leadership in discovery and technological innovation.”

Congressman Soto’s priorities for space and technology passed in this House FY21 appropriations package include funding for:

  • Leo And Spaceflight Operations: Recognizes the increasing global competition in the space market, especially internationally and encourages the use of domestic launch providers. 
  • Outer Planets and Ocean Worlds: Includes $403.5 million for the Europa Clipper Mission. 
  • Emerging Technology Research: Includes a $10 million increase of artificial intelligence research at the National Science Foundation, a $8 million increase for Quantum Initiative research at the National Science Foundation and a $60 million increase for high performance and supercomputers computers at NOAA à hurricane forecasting. In addition, Congressman Soto secured the following budget increases:
    • $125 million for AI research at the Department of Energy;
    • $235 million for Quantum Information Science Initiatives at Department of Energy;
    • $208 million for Solar Energy research at Department of Energy;
    • $160 million for cybersecurity at Department of Energy; and
    • Funding for research for blockchain deployment in electric grid modernization and power efficiency. 
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Includes language from Congressman Soto’s bill, the AI JOBS Act, that emphasizes the importance of anticipating changes in the workforce and investing in worker retraining programs within the Department of Labor.
  • Algorithmic Bias Research: Includes language that originated from Rep Soto’s office that states the importance of the AI bias and asks the National Science Foundation to produce a report that:
    • A description of the current NSF research related to the issue of artificial intelligence and bias;
    • An outline of what research could be done to better understand the issue of artificial intelligence and bias; 
    • A description of current NSF initiatives to promote diversity in computer science and machine learning; 
    • Recommendations for what could be done to further promote diversity in computer science and machine learning; 
    • Recommendations for how NSF-funded artificial intelligence research can help prevent biased results; and 
    • Any other relevant observations or recommendations within the field of artificial intelligence and bias. 
  • Blockchain/crypto deployment: Includes language to require agencies to examine the usefulness of blockchain technologies to carry out certain functions. 
    • Veterans Electronic Health Record: data management study on blockchain technology.
    • Department of Defense: research and development recognizing the importance and need of blockchain technologies for defense purposes. 
    • Department of Energy: research into the uses of blockchain in the energy sector and requires the Department to submit a report on their current uses of the technology as well as potential uses. 
  • Cryptocurrency: Encourages the FTC to work with the SEC and relevant agencies to identify and investigate fraud related to the cryptocurrencies market and discuss methods to empower and protect consumers. 
  • Virtual Currencies Guidance: Directs IRS to continue updating guidance on the taxation requirements for virtual currencies

 A floor speech of Congressman Soto going over these wins can be found here. For a full list of his appropriations wins, click here

Additionally, the $1.3 trillion package, H.R. 7617, rejects the proposed slashing and outright elimination of critical programs in President Trump’s budget and instead prioritizes public health, invests in education and job training, expands access to safe, affordable and fair housing, improves America’s infrastructure, addresses police reform, supports service members and combats climate change.

The legislation includes strong emergency funding to rebuild our aging infrastructure, support the expansion of rural broadband and strengthen our public health systems.

Finally, the legislation provides a necessary check on the Trump administration, including through provisions to end the Trump administration’s theft of defense funds for a border wall.

A division-by-division summary of H.R. 7617 is available as a PDF here.