April 26, 2007
09:26 AM

           WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today said they are pleased the Senate has given its strong support their legislation designed to make America more competitive globally.

            Bingaman and Domenici, along with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others introduced the America COMPETES Act last month.  It passed the Senate today, 88-8.   
            “This is a comprehensive approach to ensuring America remains competitive in the global marketplace.  It not only invests in the kind of basic scientific research and development that will yield the next big technological discoveries, it also ensures that we are preparing the next generation of American scientists, mathematicians and engineers.  This landmark piece of legislation will have a huge impact on our nation’s future.  I hope we can get the bill through the House of Representatives quickly so we can get it to the president’s desk,” Bingaman said. 
            “I’m pleased that such a large, bipartisan group of Senators have voted in favor of this legislation to make America more competitive.  It has taken us over a year to get this bill through the Senate, but the need to make sure our nation harnesses the brainpower we need to compete in the global marketplace is now even greater than ever.  I look forward to working with the House to put together a final package that will utilize our national labs and other resources to better educate our young people and reclaim our leadership in developing science and technology,” Domenici said.
            The America Competes Act would double the authorized funding for the National Science Foundation in five years and sets the Department of Energy’s Office of Science on a path to double over 10 years.  It creates an Innovation Acceleration Research Program to encourage federal agencies to set aside 8 percent of research and development funding for high-risk, high pay-off research. 
            It also creates science magnet schools where-by each national laboratory “adopts” a school to strengthen its math and science capability.  And it creates a broad range of programs to train teachers in math and science education through the Department of Education and Department of Energy while encouraging student participation in advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs.
            The bill makes a concerted effort to involve DOE’s national laboratories by establishing training and education programs at summer institutes hosted by the labs, and by creating partnerships between labs and high schools to build centers of excellence in math and science education.
            The bill also supports other key New Mexico initiatives, including the following:
The National Science Foundation science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program--The New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, based at NMSU, is a STEM recipient.  Eastern New Mexico University, as well as New Mexico State University-Carlsbad, participates in this New Mexico program.  (http://www.nmsu.edu/~nmamp/)
NASA’s Space Grant College and Fellowship Program--New Mexico participates in this program through a consortium led by NMSU.  (http://spacegrant.nmsu.edu/);
The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program (http://www.nmepscor.org/);
Develops “Discovery Science and Engineering Innovation Institutes” which will benefit Sandia Laboratories collaborative efforts with New Mexico Universities to train the engineer of the 21st century in such areas as nanoscience and Microsystems.
Complements New Mexico’s efforts to strengthen K-12 math and science education, by expanding access to the Summer Institutes for teachers at the National Labs so more New Mexico teachers can participate in these very successful programs.  Further, the bill would increase access to Advanced Placement programs, ensuring more New Mexico teachers are trained to teach Advanced Placement and more students have access to these critical courses of study.
#   #   #