Alexander, Domenici, and Bingaman Ask President Bush to Continue Leadership on Competitiveness

Posted on December 28, 2006

Three Senate leaders on the issue of competitiveness - Pete Domenici (R-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – have asked President Bush to make competitiveness funding part of his Fiscal Year 2008 budget and continue his leadership so that America can maintain its brainpower advantage and prevent jobs from going overseas. “Last year at this time the three of us met with you to discuss keeping America’s brainpower advantage, in order to protect our competitive edge and keep American jobs from going to India and China. You followed up by including competitiveness funding in your FY ’07 budget. We ask you to do again this year what you did last year: include the competitiveness initiative in your budget and make it a priority in your State of the Union address,” the Senators wrote in a letter to President Bush. “This is a critical effort. We face a new ‘flat’ world where more and more countries can compete with us, and we must rise to the challenge,” they added. “That is why we continue to ask you to make this issue a top priority in your budget and for your administration.” Earlier this year the Senators introduced the bipartisan Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Acts that attracted 70 cosponsors – 35 Republicans and 35 Democrats. The legislation was based on the recommendations in the National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The report, requested by Bingaman and Alexander with the encouragement of Domenici, outlined actions the United States should take to retain its edge in the global economy. After working with the leadership of three Senate Committees, Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the bipartisan National Competitiveness Investment Act, which incorporates many of the provisions in the PACE Acts, in September. In the House, the incoming leadership has said competitiveness legislation will be a priority. “No legislation in the Senate is more bipartisan than our work to protect America's competitive edge,” Alexander said. “With the President’s help, we can deliver a victory to the American people so that more of our good paying jobs stay right here.” In Tennessee, the impact of the legislation could include scholarships for future Tennessee math and science teachers; summer academies for math and science teachers hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and universities across the state; support for a proposed math and science specialty high school; high-tech internships for Tennessee middle and high school students at ORNL, the UT Health Science Center in Memphis, and other technology and scientific research facilities across the state; and increased funding for research at institutions like ORNL, the University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Text of the Senators’ letter to President Bush follows. December 21, 2006 The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President Last year at this time the three of us met with you to discuss keeping America’s brainpower advantage, in order to protect our competitive edge and keep American jobs from going to India and China. We are grateful for your leadership in including competitiveness funding in your FY’07 budget. And, we crafted legislation that ultimately gained 70 cosponsors – 35 Republicans and 35 Democrats. We ask you to do again this year what you did last year: include the competitiveness initiative in your budget and make it a priority in your State of the Union address. The competitive challenge that America faces today is really about education and jobs. We Americans – who constitute just five percent of the world’s population – produced about 30 percent of the world’s wealth last year. Most of this good fortune comes as a product of our educated workforce and our technological innovation. Yet, as we look at what’s happening in countries like China, India, Finland, Ireland, Singapore, and others, we worry that America may be losing its competitive advantage. Much has happened this past year in the Senate and in the House of Representatives as we have worked on competitiveness legislation. In the Senate, we introduced the bipartisan PACE Acts that attracted 70 cosponsors. After working with the leadership of three Senate committees, Senators Frist and Reid introduced the National Competitiveness Investment Act. The incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has said that she will make this legislation a priority. And, Congressman Bart Gordon, the new Chairman of the House Science Committee, is actively engaged in this issue. This is a critical effort. We face a new “flat” world where more and more countries can compete with us, and we must rise to the challenge. Competitiveness legislation would invest in basic scientific research and help educate the next generation of scientists. It would help us keep pace with other nations that are moving swiftly to overtake our scientific leadership. More young people would receive the quality education in math and science that they need to succeed in a high-tech economy. That is why we ask you to continue to make this issue a top priority in your budget and for your administration. If America is going to continue to be the global economic leader, we can not afford to let this wait. Thank you again for your leadership on this important issue. Sincerely, Pete V. Domenici, Jeff Bingaman, Lamar Alexander