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Press Release - Cantwell, Bipartisan Group of Senators Back Legislation to Keep America Competitive

Location: Washington, DC

Press Release - Cantwell, Bipartisan Group of Senators Back Legislation to Keep America Competitive

Legislation would create jobs, invest in research, strengthen math and science education, promote innovation-friendly infrastructure

WASHINGTON, DC - Tuesday night, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan coalition of senators to back legislation that would provide a comprehensive framework to keep America competitive, safeguard our country's place as a leader in the global economy, increase America's talent pool, and foster the innovation needed to create high-quality jobs for more Americans. The National Competitiveness Investment Act, introduced Tuesday by Cantwell and others would increase research funding, bolster America's innovation infrastructure, and strengthen opportunities in math, science, engineering, and technology education from elementary through graduate school.

"This is an aggressive, comprehensive national strategy to reinforce our country's place as a leader in education and innovation," said Cantwell. "To make sure our country remains at the forefront of research and development, we need to strengthen basics like math and science education, and increase our investment in the research and development needed to maintain our competitive edge. With the right investments and incentives for innovation and entrepreneurship, we can create good jobs right here in the Pacific Northwest and keep our economy growing."

The National Competitiveness Investment Act is based on recommendations made by the National Academies, at the request of Congress. Among other things, the report released by the Academies highlights the importance of affordable broadband access, science and math education, cutting-edge research, and the creation of high-quality innovation-based jobs.

The National Competitiveness Investment Act is based largely on the Protecting America's Competitive Edge Through Energy Act, passed by the Senate Energy Committee, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, passed by the Senate Commerce Committee, and other legislation approved by the Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee. Cantwell is a member of the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees. The National Competitiveness Act represents the sum of the committees' work on these pieces of legislation, which were also based on the National Academies' report.

Highlights of the National Competitiveness Investment Act include:

• Doubling the authorized funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to $11.2 billion by 2011

• Doubling the authorized funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science to over $5.2 billion by 2011

• Establishing an Innovation Acceleration Research Program to help coordinate federally-funded research and encourage investment in high-risk frontier research

• Increasing the authorized funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from approximately $640 million in 2007 to approximately $937 million in 2011

• Coordinating federal ocean and atmospheric research and education to promote U.S. leadership in these fields

• Establishing a President's Council on Innovation and Competitiveness to develop a comprehensive agenda to boost public as well as private-sector innovation and competitiveness

• Requiring the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify barriers to innovation

• Authorizing competitive grants to promote better alignment of elementary and secondary education with the knowledge and skills needed for success in postsecondary education and the workforce

• Strengthening the skills of math and science teachers by initiating new training and education programs at summer institutes hosted at the National Laboratories, and by increasing support for Teacher Institutes at NSF

• Expanding efforts by NSF to recruit and train individuals to become math and science teachers

• Assisting states in establishing or expanding statewide specialty schools in math and science that students from across the state could to attend; National Laboratories staff would provide expert assistance at these schools

• Expanding Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs by increasing the number of teachers prepared to teach AP/IB and pre-AP/IB math, science, and foreign language courses in high-need schools

• Developing and implementing programs for bachelor's degrees in math, science, engineering, and critical foreign languages with concurrent teaching credentials

• Developing part-time master's in education programs for math, science, and foreign language teachers to enhance content knowledge as well as teaching skills

• Creating partnerships between National Laboratories and local high-need high schools to establish centers of excellence in math and science education

• Expanding existing NSF graduate research fellowship and traineeship programs

• Requiring NSF to work with institutions of higher education to facilitate the development of professional science master's degree programs

• Providing grants to improve math instruction in elementary and middle schools and provide targeted help to struggling students

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