Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN-6) and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced a Senate and House conference has completed work on a three-year, $43 billion initiative to double government funding for basic scientific research and create hundreds of new opportunities for math and science students, teachers and researchers.
Alexander and Gordon said Congress should complete work by the end of the week on the global competitiveness legislation designed to keep America’s brainpower advantage. They also said the agreement reached last night by a Senate-House conference "will have a large and immediate impact in Tennessee,” including
*Scholarships for hundreds of future math and science teachers
*Summer academies for teachers and students at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and universities such as Middle Tennessee State University
*Support for the state's proposed residential high school in math and science
*A 10 percent a year increase in funding for research and development in science and technology at universities and laboratories.
The legislation is the result of two years of bipartisan congressional work in response to recommendations found in the National Academies’ “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report. In 2005, Alexander, Gordon, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) had asked the National Academies for “specific recommendations to keep America’s brainpower advantage.”
Gordon is now chairman of the House Science Committee. Alexander and Bingaman are co-chairs of the Senate science and technology caucus.
“Keeping America's brainpower advantage is the single best way in a global economy to keep good jobs from going overseas to China, India and other fast growing countries,” said Alexander, who served as lead Republican conferee on the legislation in the Senate. “Congress will enact no more significant piece of legislation this year. I congratulate Bart Gordon on his leadership.”
“Keeping America competitive will help us keep good jobs on our nation’s shores and ensure our ability to compete in a global marketplace,” said Gordon the lead House negotiator. “That process begins with a high-quality educational system and follows with ideas and investments in people here at home.”
The final compromise bill authorizes $43.3 billion during fiscal years 2008 - 2010 for science, technology, engineering and mathematics research and education programs spread across the federal government.
The America COMPETES Act puts research programs at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy on a path to double their budgets during the next decade.
The Act also:
*Invests in the content training of thousands of science and math teachers through scholarship and partnership programs
*Fosters the engagement of high-risk, high-reward energy research and technology development
*Expands programs to enhance the undergraduate education of the science and engineering workforce and provides additional support for outstanding young investigators at federal agencies
*Increases the number of teachers serving high-need schools and expands the pool of qualified teachers of AP and IB classes
*Directs the president to convene a National Science and Technology Summit and establishes a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness.
The America COMPETES Act (S. 761) was jointly introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and ultimately attracted 69 bipartisan cosponsors. The bill was based on proposals in the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Act, which Alexander introduced with Senators Bingaman, Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) early in 2005.
The 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007 (H.R. 2272), the House companion bill, was introduced by Gordon. The legislation was comprised of bills authored and steered by Gordon and other members of the Science and Technology Committee. Each of the bills previously passed the House by wide bipartisan margins.
Alexander sits on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is a former U.S. Secretary of Education.
Gordon is the Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee.