Chattanooga Times Free press - Edward Lee Pitts
WASHINGTON — Global competitiveness legislation, one of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s top priorities, was introduced Tuesday as a bipartisan bill designed to boost math and science abilities among American students.
Sen. Alexander, R-Tenn., said the bill is the culmination of yearlong negotiations. The legislation would establish a new teacher’s institute and scholarship programs to recruit and train new math and science teachers. It also would increase funding for federal science research and create an advanced research projects agency at the Department of Energy.
Sen. Alexander called the bill’s introduction by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a major step forward toward securing final passage.
The legislation, called the National Competitiveness Investment Act, is co-sponsored by a dozen senators from both parties.
Sen. Alexander said he hopes the bill will be voted on after the November elections and before the end of the year. It does not require further congressional hearings, since all relevant committees have reviewed elements of the legislation, he said.
"This bill is about growing our economy so that in 20 years we don’t wake up and wonder how countries like China and India have passed us by," Sen. Alexander said.
Sen. Frist said the bill "will help to preserve America’s competitive edge in the 21 st century global economy and will enhance our economic security."
Sen. Alexander has been pushing for a global competitiveness package since a National Academy of Science panel in 2005 warned about the nation’s dwindling technology advantage.