Associated Press - Staff writer
The Senate voted Wednesday to authorize an additional $16 billion for math and science programs over the next four years to keep the nation in the forefront of technology breakthroughs.
The 88-8 vote sent the America Competes Act to the House, which is working on similar legislation.
The increase would boost total spending in these programs to $60 billion over the four-year period, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a former education secretary.
The authorized spending would double total funding for the National Science Foundation in five years and set the Energy Department's Office of Science on a path to double over 10 years.
An Innovation Acceleration Research Program would encourage federal agencies to set aside 8 percent of research and development spending for high-risk research.
The bill would create science magnet schools, with each of the Energy Department's national laboratories adopting a school to strengthen its math and science programs.
There would be funds to train teachers in math and science education and encourage student participation in advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs.
The legislation was sponsored chiefly by New Mexico Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici, respectively the Democratic chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Senate passage came a day after the House approved legislation intended to boost the number of highly qualified math and science teachers in U.S. schools.
The bill, which passed 389-22, would authorize more than $600 million through 2012 for scholarships and stipends for college students studying math and science in preparation for teaching careers.
They could receive annual scholarships of $10,000 if they commit to teaching elementary or secondary pupils upon graduation.