Tonight, by unanimous consent, the Senate passed the conference report on legislation aimed at helping America maintain its leading edge in science and technology. The bipartisan bill, the “America Competes Act of 2007” (H.R. 2272), now goes to President Bush for signature.
“America Competes” contains many provisions of the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge through Energy Act (PACE Act) introduced last year by Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici and reported by the Energy Committee. What passed tonight combines provisions from that bill with other competitiveness initiatives prepared by other committees.
“The America Competes Act is a landmark piece of legislation that will ensure that our nation retains its competitive edge for generations to come. This bill invests in education, and in scientific research and development to ensure we create and retain the best jobs of the future,” Bingaman said. “I am so glad we were able to get broad bipartisan support our bill, and I look forward to it being signed into law.”
"We are sending the President a bipartisan bill that will do more to harness and develop our national brainpower," Domenici added. "We need to take U.S. competitiveness seriously. We need to take action to support our standard of living, and ensure we continue to grow and prosper. If we do not, we can expect other nations to rival our global competitiveness – and one day to surpass us. As such, this bill gives the nation a vehicle for long-term increased investment in education, technology, science and research at all levels."
The legislation implements recommendations contained in reports by the National Academy of Sciences and the Council on Competitiveness. It focuses on three areas that are important for maintaining and improving the quality of U.S. research and innovation: 1) increasing research investment; 2) strengthening educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and 3) developing an innovation infrastructure.
Sen. Bingaman managed debate on the bill in the Senate and chaired Wednesday’s conference. Despite the length of the bill (close to 500 pages) and number of folks involved, an agreement was negotiated so that conferees were able to adopt it with only two minor amendments in not much more than an hour. In Congress these days, that in itself is a remarkable achievement!
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