Supporting America's Innovation Economy

January 5, 2011
01:38 PM
President Signs Bill To Bolster American Prosperity
In the Face of Increasing Global Competition
Act Aims To Make America Stronger, More Competitive, More Innovative, More Prosperous
In a display of bipartisanship at a time when it was in short supply, Congress late last year passed legislation to make critical investments in science, innovation, research and education.  President Obama signed that bill – the Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010 -- into law on Tuesday.
The bill, H.R. 5116 as amended by the Senate, seeks to boost confidence in America’s scientific and innovation future, which would in turn would attract more young Americans into technical fields and expand employment horizons and earnings potential for millions of Americans.  The new law builds on provisions of the original America COMPETES Act, which Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) wrote in 2007.  (That bill was a response to the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which warned that America’s place as a global leader in science and technology was at risk.)
Sen. Bingaman (D-NM)“When we first passed America COMPETES three years ago, it helped us create a path to ensuring that we retain our competitive edge in the global economy.  Given the difficult economic times we’ve been facing for the past few years, I believe it is more important than ever for us to invest in scientific research and math and science education.  This bill will keep us on track – in research and in education – so that we can create the jobs of the future for U.S. workers.”
Sen. Alexander (R-TN):  America has most of the best universities in the world, yet our nation is falling behind. This legislation continues an aggressive effort to preserve America’s brainpower advantage, so our high-paying jobs don’t head overseas to places like India and China.  At a time of nearly 10 percent unemployment, this legislation is more important than ever. The process for putting together this legislation could serve as a model: Getting the recommendations of experts and working together step-by-step in a bipartisan way.”
To expand American innovation and competitiveness, the Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act focuses on 1) increasing science and research investments and 2) strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. 
Increase Science and Research Investments
*Authorize funding increases to double spending on science and basic research over 10 years.
*Support efforts to expand American energy technology, including ARPA-E, a distinguished scientist program between DOE national laboratories and U.S. universities and a hydrocarbon systems science program.
*Support programs to assist American manufacturers and create a loan guarantee program to support innovation in manufacturing.
Strengthen Educational Opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
*Coordinate science and math education across the Federal government, with the goal of reinforcing programs that demonstrate effectiveness.
*Support research and internship opportunities for high school and undergraduate students, and increase graduate fellowships supported by NSF and DOE.
*Encourage science and math students to pursue teaching credentials, increasing the pool of qualified teachers for the next generation of young innovators.
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