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America COMPETES Reauthorization Act

House Democrats are committed to creating prosperity through science and innovation, reasserting our economic and technological leadership throughout the world in the decades to come, and giving future generations greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

Over the last century, Americans have led the way in technological innovation with everything from the car assembly line to the PC to the Internet.  We can't let China and India invent, build, and sell us the technology that will power the next century.  This legislation is crucial to our efforts to keep America number one by investing in modernizing manufacturing, spurs American innovation through basic R&D and high risk/high reward clean energy research, and strengthens math and science education to prepare students for the good jobs of the 21st Century.

On December 21, 2010 the House passed the Senate amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5116) by a vote of 228-130 and the President signed the bill into law on January 4, 2011.  The Senate-passed measure is similar to the House-passed bill, doing the following:

  • Keeps our nation on a path to double funding for basic scientific research, crucial to some of our most innovative breakthroughs;
  • Creates jobs with innovative technology loan guarantees for small and mid-sized manufac-turers and Regional Innovation Clusters to expand scientific and economic collaboration;
  • Promotes high-risk high reward research to pioneer cutting edge discoveries through ARPA-E and promotes job creation in clean energy; and
  • Creates the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs by improving science, math, technology, and engineering education at all levels

This bill is a fiscally responsible compromise that reduces the authorization from five to three years (reducing the cost), and repeals original COMPETES programs that have not been funded.  The Bowles-Simpson deficit commission singled out basic scientific research as a long-term gain for the budget, as it is vital to our nation's scientific and economic leadership. 

Republicans have voted against key investments in science and innovation in the Recovery Act, ranging from historic investments in safe, clean energy, to basic research today for the cutting edge technology of tomorrow, while cynically trying to derail the bipartisan America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, critical to our competitiveness and creating good paying jobs in the 21st Century.

Fosters innovation and basic research by:

  • Supporting new Regional Innovation Clusters to strengthen regional economies and advance the work in a given field by leveraging collaboration and communication between businesses and other entities.
  • Reauthorizing the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (APRA-E) which is pursuing high-risk, high-reward energy technology development. Authorized in 2007 and first funded in 2009, ARPA-E is modeled after DARPA which created a culture of innovation and lead to breakthroughs like GPS and the Internet.
  • Reauthorizing and keeping the following science and innovation research on a doubling path:
    • the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the single largest supporter of research in the physical sciences in America,
    • National Science Foundation, which supports fundamental research and education in all non-medical fields of science and engineering, and
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Labs.
  • Requiring the development of a national innovation and competitiveness strategy to strengthen the innovative and competitive capacity of the Federal Government, State and local governments, institutions of higher education, and the private sector.
  • Making permanent the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Department of Commerce, which works with businesses to overcome barriers to commercializing the results of new research and to speed the market application of the new technologies, products, processes and services that will grow our economy and create jobs.
  • Authorizing cash prize awards for innovative research.
  • A report last spring demonstrates the economic importance of basic research, identifying 100 companies borne of federal investments in basic research, including Google, Genentech, and A123 Systems -- employing more than 100,000 people.
  • About two-thirds of basic research is supported by federal agencies, with NSF funding paving the way for the method of ranking websites by links, a cornerstone of Google.

Create jobs and supports manufacturers and industry by:

  • Providing innovative technology federal loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized manufacturers -- to expand, use innovative technology, or manufacture or commercialize an innovative technology product or process -- to help them access capital to become more efficient and stay competitive.
  • Coordinating manufacturing research and development carried out across the federal government.
  • Providing Manufacturing Extension Partnership program centers with 50 percent of the cost incurred to run the center, up from one-third, to strengthen their financial status during this difficult economic time.
  • Authorizing NSF to support fundamental research leading to transformative advances in manufacturing.
  • Establishing a clean energy manufacturing and construction initiative to create clean energy jobs, promote sustainability in manufacturing and bolster energy performance and air quality in buildings. 
  • Directing the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Centers to inform local community colleges of the skill sets that are needed by area manufacturers, to help ensure that students have the specific job training necessary to secure a good-paying job in their community.
  • Requiring a study of the barriers to the use of high-end computing simulation and modeling by small and medium size manufacturers.

Improves STEM education and ensure a prepared workforce by:

  • Expanding, strengthening, and aligning STEM education programs at all levels of education:
    • Updating the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, which trains highly competent secondary teachers in STEM fields to teach in high need schools, by reducing the match requirement and allowing more schools to participate in the program;
    • Support research and internship opportunities for high school and undergraduate students, and increase graduate fellowships supported by NSF and DOE;
    • Encourage students studying in STEM areas to pursue teaching credentials, increasing the pool of qualified teachers for the next generation of young innovators; and
    • Providing grants to implement or expand research-based reforms in master's and doctoral level STEM education that emphasize preparation for diverse careers in the STEM workforce.
  • Increasing participation by underserved communities in STEM fields to strengthen and diversify the STEM workforce, for example, by prioritizing inclusion of minority serving institutions under the Partnerships for Innovation program.

What People are Saying About the America COMPETES Act

Chamber of Commerce
'The Chamber believes that H.R. 5116 would strengthen U.S. competitiveness by improving America's scientific and economic leadership, and making stronger investments in science, innovation, research and education.' [12/20/10]

National Association of Manufacturers
'Manufacturers are very pleased the COMPETES Act has passed the Senate. Our economic future relies more than ever on our ability to innovate, and the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act will help manufacturers prosper in a globally integrated and highly competitive marketplace. The COMPETES Act reauthorizes critical programs ranging from federal funding for R&D to vital education grants, which will aid manufacturers and enhance their competitiveness. The NAM thanks the members of Congress who supported this important legislation.” [12/17/10]

Business Roundtable
'The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act will provide critical support for the foundations of America's science and technology enterprise. By building on the key provisions of the original statute, it will strengthen confidence in America's future, attract more young Americans into technical fields and expand the employment horizons and earnings potential of millions of new American workers.  Business Roundtable is proud to have been an early and robust supporter of the original America COMPETES Act, and we strongly support its reauthorization. It embodies a positive agenda for growth that will help lift America's economy and create new opportunities for U.S. workers.' [12/17/10]

American Association for the Advancement of Science
'AAAS believes that, by enhancing budgets for fundamental and multidisciplinary research across multiple agencies, and investing in a better-prepared, better-educated domestic workforce, passage of the America COMPETES Act will help the United States keep at the forefront of technological development and economic growth.' [12/20/10]

'The America Competes Act is a thoughtful set of policy solutions that help drive innovation in the U.S. economy. COMPETES makes smart investments in research, science and education proven tools that power job creation and make our economy more dynamic in the long-run. We thank the Senate for its bipartisan support of the COMPETES bill.  We now urge the House to move quickly on this important measure.” [12/17/10]

Information Technology Industry Council
Through strategic investments in education, science, and research, this legislation has played a critical role in fostering high-tech job growth as well advancing a host of new technologies ranging from energy efficiency to communications and health information technology. In addition, it has proven effective in high-tech workforce development. [12/17/10]