Democratic News

            WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici, leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today said they were pleased that legislation intended to make America more competitive is being taken up by the full U.S. Senate.
 
            Debate on the America COMPETES Act (S.761) began on the Senate floor today, and will continue next week.  The bill was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Bingaman, Domenici and others. 
 
            The legislation implements recommendations contained in a report requested by the committee and prepared by the National Academy of Science entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” as well as the Council on Competitiveness’ “Innovate America” report.  A major portion of the bill utilizing the Department of Energy is virtually identical to legislation passed by then-Chairman Domenici and Bingaman during the 109th Congress.
 
             “The America COMPETES Act will sustain our nation’s vibrant science and technology sector, and with it our country’s well-being, health, environment and security.  It will invest in R&D, encourage education and nurture a business environment that transforms new knowledge into new high wage jobs.  Passage of this investment initiative will ensure that America remains strong, smart and a world leader in scientific and technological innovation,” Bingaman said.
 
            “At long last, I’m pleased to see action on the competitiveness issue.  For years, I have heard from scientists in New Mexico and around the country about the impending problems our nation will face if we don’t re-focus on math and science.  This legislation is a multi-faceted approach intended to make America more competitive in the global economy.  I look forward to debate on the Senate floor and hope we can gain swift passage,” Domenici said.
 
             The America COMPETES Act contains many provisions of the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge Through Energy Act (PACE-Energy) approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year.  The new legislation combines PACE Act provisions with other competitiveness initiatives prepared by other committees that were included in the National Competitiveness Investment Act introduced by Senate leadership in September 2006. 
 
             The bill focuses on three areas that are important for maintaining and improving U.S. innovation: 1) increasing research investment; 2) strengthening educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from elementary through graduate school; and 3) developing an innovation infrastructure.
 
             Bingaman and Domenici are expected to offer further comments on the legislation during floor debate.
 
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