Today, the House of Representatives concurred with the Senate Amendment to H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 by a bipartisan vote of 228 to 130. The bill aims to maintain our national economic and scientific leadership by: supporting basic research; improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; and fostering innovation, especially the development of new energy technologies.
"As Norm Augustine, chairman of the National Academies' Gathering Storm panel and former chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin said, in all the years he was an aircraft engineer and dealing with trying to make an overweight aircraft fly, the solution was never to lop off an engine. Science funding is the engine of a knowledge-based economy. If we remove it, our economy will crash and burn," said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), author of the legislation. "If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, during which our country's technological edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today. More than half of our economic growth since World War II can be attributed to development and adoption of new technologies. These investments are the path toward sustainable economic recovery and growth and the path toward prosperity for the next 50 years."
COMPETES based on recommendations in the National Academies' 2005 Rising Above the Gathering Storm report, which recommended investments to support basic research, improve STEM education, and foster innovation. The original COMPETES received broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Bush in 2007.
In September, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5 was released. The updated report highlights progress that has been made in the past five years, including enactment of the America COMPETES Act, but underscores that America's competitive position in the world now faces greater challenges and that research investments are even more critical today. The report urges reauthorization of COMPETES. The Reauthorization passed Committee on April 28th with bipartisan support; it passed the House on May 26th with bipartisan support; and the Senate approved it by unanimous consent last Friday.
"I am proud that, in the two terms I've had the privilege to lead the Science and Technology Committee, the Committee has had 151 bills and resolutions pass the House, all with bipartisan support. But there is nothing I am prouder of than America COMPETES Act. There is nothing that will have deeper, longer lasting, and more positive impacts for our nation than this bill," said Gordon. "I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing, for what is likely my final act on this House Floor after 26 years of service, than sending this bill to the president's desk."
Over 750 organizations have endorsed H.R. 5116, including: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Information Technology Industry Council, the American Chemical Society, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Competitiveness, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Venture Capital Association, TechAmerica, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.