Posted on March 8, 2006
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today praised committee passage of the energy legislation included in the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Act bill package. The Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass S. 2197 out of committee and on to the full Senate for consideration. “Today’s committee passage of the PACE-Energy Act is an important step toward maintaining America’s brainpower advantage and keeping our good jobs from going overseas,” said Alexander, co-author of the PACE Act legislation. “This legislation will provide for more groundbreaking research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and allow thousands of Tennessee teachers and students to be trained at high-quality scientific research facilities,” he added. “I have enjoyed working with Senator Domenici and Senator Bingaman on this legislation, and credit the swift committee action to their fine leadership.” As passed by the committee, the PACE-Energy Act, S. 2197, would support education and innovation in Tennessee: Summer Academies for up to 1,000 Tennessee Math & Science Teachers: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and universities across the state like UT, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and Rhodes would host one-week to two-week academies each summer for up to 1,000 Tennessee math and science teachers. Support for a Proposed Math & Science Specialty High School: The state of Tennessee would be eligible to partner with ORNL for financial and expert assistance in teaching at a new residential high school specializing in math and science that students from across the state would be eligible to attend. High-Tech Internships for Tennessee Middle and High School Students: The bill would provide unique internship and program opportunities 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. Growing Tennessee-based Research to Produce New High-Tech Jobs: The bill would increase research and development spending by 10 percent per year for seven years at several federal agencies, thereby creating hundreds of new research jobs at Tennessee research institutions like the ORNL, UT and Vanderbilt. This investment could generate dozens of new high-tech companies in Tennessee over the course of the next decade. New Distinguished Scientists at ORNL: The bill creates slots for new distinguished scientists at national laboratories, including Oak Ridge, who will hold appointments to promote academic and scientific excellence. This program is based on an existing program of scientists holding joint appointments at ORNL and UT Knoxville. In January, Alexander, along with Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), announced the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) three bill package: PACE-Energy (S. 2197), PACE-Education (S. 2198) and PACE-Finance (S. 2199). The PACE Act package implements 20 recommendations contained in the October report by the National Academies titled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.” This report came in response to a question Alexander and Bingaman asked the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine last May: “What are the ten top actions that federal policy makers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise so the U.S. can successfully compete, prosper and be secure in the global community of the 21st century?” The PACE Act currently has 68 cosponsors – 34 Republicans and 34 Democrats – including the Senate majority and minority leaders. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development, chaired by Alexander, recently held a pair of hearings on the PACE-Education bill. PACE-Finance has been referred to the Finance Committee.