Reauthorization of America COMPETES Act invests in 21st century workforce amidst rising global competition
The Senate today unanimously passed legislation supported by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to continue building America's long-term economic competitiveness and innovative capacity. The America COMPETES ACT (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) includes critical components co-authored by Cantwell.
"It is crucial that we step up our investment in education and innovation to maintain a 21st century workforce that is competitive in the global economy," said Senator Cantwell. "The Senate today unanimously committed to ensuring that our children will receive a world-class education in science, technology, engineering, and math here in America."
The America COMPETES Act invests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) research and education programs, and reauthorizes the ARPA-E program (Advanced Research Projects Agency -- Energy), which Cantwell helped author to invest in high-risk, high-reward clean energy technology research and development in the private sector. COMPETES also provides innovation and competitiveness grants as well as other research projects and opportunities funded under the Office of Science and Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation. The bill reauthorizes COMPETES for fiscal years 2011 through 2013. Cantwell helped pass an earlier Senate version of COMPETES out of the Senate Commerce Committee on July 22, 2010.
The COMPETES Act first became law on August 9, 2007, and marked a key step in advancing STEM. Cantwell was an original co-sponsor of the legislation, which authorized $33.6 billion through 2010 for STEM programs in the five aforementioned federal agencies and authorized $400 million for the ARPA-E program in fiscal year 2010 only. Cantwell fought to include initial funding to get the ARPA-E program started in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which competitively allocated its final funding this past July. In total, ARPA-E under ARRA is funding a total of 116 projects nationwide, supporting research that can deliver breakthrough changes in how the United States generates, stores, and utilizes energy. The Senate-passed bill now goes back to the House for final passage.