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Rep. Berman Helps Push Major U.S Competitiveness, Science, Math Education Package Through House

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Berman Helps Push Major U.S Competitiveness, Science, Math Education Package Through House

Today, Rep. Berman followed through on a commitment to insure that California students, teachers, businesses and workers are a part of U.S. efforts to continue leading the world in innovation, research and technology.

Berman voted in support of H.R. 2272, the 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007, a major part of the House Democrats' Innovation Agenda.

"These bills are designed to provide high quality jobs for the hard-working people of California and ensure that our children are ready for those jobs - that's what economic competitiveness and stability for generations to come is all about," said Berman.

The bill, which is made up of five bills previously passed in the House, authorizes funding for programs to create more qualified teachers in science and math fields and to support scientific research and innovation through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Each of the bills was authored and steered by the House Committee on Science & Technology.

H.R. 2272 is based on the 2005 National Academies report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," which found that the U.S. could stand to lose its competitive edge without immediate action. The report was created at the request of a group of bipartisan Congressional lawmakers.

"That report told us that now is the time to take bold steps to ensure that our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and that our nation can continue to compete in the global economy," said Berman.

The series of recommendations from that report included in the provisions of H.R. 2272 are:

*Keeping the National Science Foundation and the NIST research labs on a 10-year doubling path;
*Creating thousands of new teachers and provide current teachers with content and pedagogical expertise in their area of teaching;
*Expanding programs to enhance the undergraduate education of the future science and engineering workforce;
*Expanding early career grant programs for outstanding young investigators at both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy;
*Strengthening interagency planning and coordination for research infrastructure and information technology.

The legislative package authorizes a total of $23.6 billion over fiscal years 2008 - 2010, including $21 billion for research and education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), $2.5 billion for the research labs, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other activities at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), and $96 million for early career awards and teacher professional development programs at the Department of Energy (DOE). An additional $70 million is authorized for these programs at DOE for fiscal years 2011-2012.

"This investment in technology and innovation is necessary if America is to maintain its position as a global leader. These bills are the framework of that investment," said Berman. "This will keep competitive jobs here in California and help insure a brighter future for our children."

House passage of H.R. 2272 sets in motion a conference with similar innovation and competitiveness legislation that recently passed the U.S. Senate - S. 761, the America COMPETES Act.

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