Senate Democrats

The 110th Congress Passes a Bipartisan Initiative to Strengthen American Competitiveness

“Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space.  We mean to be a part of it — we mean to lead it… Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first.  In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men…”

— President John F. Kennedy, Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, 9/12/62

On August 2, 2007, on a broad bipartisan basis and with the strong support of the technology, business, and academic community, the House and the Senate approved H.R.2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (America COMPETES Act).  This bill ensures that our nation will retain its competitive position in the world through improvements to math and science education and a strong commitment to research to ensure America keeps its edge in the science, research and technology.

The America COMPETES Act is the culmination of a two-year, bipartisan effort to pass a package of competitiveness bills in response to recommendations in the 2005 National Academies report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”  Earlier in the year, the House and Senate passed comprehensive legislation (H.R.2272, S.761) that served as the basis for the bipartisan, bicameral, multidisciplinary America COMPETES Act Conference Agreement, which passed the House on a 367 to 57 vote and the Senate by unanimous consent.  The America COMPETES Act follows through on a commitment by Democratic Leadership to ensure U.S. students, teachers, businesses and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research, and technology — well into the future.

The America COMPETES Act:

Provides incentives to increase math and science education to ensure that America retains its competitive edge in the future by:

·        Expanding programs at National Science Foundation (NSF) to enhance the undergraduate education of the future science and engineering workforce, including at 2-year colleges;

·        Including provisions throughout the bill to help broaden participation in science and engineering fields at all levels;

·        Authorizing two new competitive grant programs that will enable partnerships to implement courses of study in mathematics, science, engineering, technology or critical foreign languages in ways that lead to a baccalaureate degree with concurrent teacher certification; and

·        Authorizing competitive grants to increase the number of teachers serving high-need schools and expand access to AP and IB classes and to increase the number of qualified AP and IB teachers in high-need schools.

Makes a sustained investment in research and development activities in the United States to ensure that America has the building blocks for expanded prosperity and continued global leadership by:

·        Keeping research programs at NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science on a near-term doubling path;

·        Authorizing a total of $33.6 billion over Fiscal Years 2008 to 2010 for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research and education programs across the federal government;

·        Strengthening interagency planning and coordination for research infrastructure and information technology (i.e., high-speed computing);

·        Expanding early career grant programs and provides additional support for outstanding young investigators at the NSF and DOE; and

·        Promoting government-wide contributions to science by:

–       Directing the President to convene a National Science and Technology Summit to examine the health and direction of the U.S. STEM enterprises;

–       Requiring a National Academy of Sciences study on barriers to innovation;

–       Changing the National Technology Medal to the National Technology and Innovation Medal;

–       Establishing a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness (akin to the President’s Council on Science and Technology);

–       Requiring prioritization of planning for major research facilities and instrumentation nationwide through the National Science and Technology Council; and

–       Expressing a sense of Congress that each federal research agency should support and promote innovation through funding for high-risk, high-reward research.

Invests in energy research and innovation to decrease our dependence on foreign sources of energy by:

·        Establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), a nimble and semi-autonomous research agency at the DOE to engage in high-risk, high-reward energy research.

Ensures that our nation’s small- and medium- sized businesses have the tools they need to contribute to America’s preeminent role in the global economy by:

·        Creating the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at NIST (replacing the existing Advanced Technology Program or ATP) to fund high-risk, high-reward, pre-competitive technology development by small- and medium- sized companies with high potential for public benefit;

·        Putting Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) funding on a path to doubling over 10 years;

·        Mandating Small Business Administration participation on the new President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness authorized by the America COMPETES Act;

·        Requiring that small business representatives are included at the White House National Science and Technology summit authorized by the America COMPETES Act; and

·        Including a sense of the Senate regarding Small Business Growth and Capital Markets and calling for the completion of final rules to reduce the unnecessary and unintended cost burdens imposed by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 on small- and medium-sized public companies.

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