The New Direction Congress is continuing our effort to create prosperity through science and innovation, reassert our economic and technological leadership throughout the world in the decades to come, and give future generations greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Boosting U.S. competitiveness is essential to our economy; about half of the growth in the GDP since World War II is related to the development and adoption of new technology.
Nearly five years ago, Democrats outlined our commitment to competitiveness with our Innovation Agenda. Carrying through on that commitment, the COMPETES Act was signed into law in 2007. The reauthorization of this legislation continues this work, preparing our nation for economic success in the 21st century.
Republicans have voted against efforts to keep good-paying jobs here in America--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. Now they are playing politics with America's economic future. On May 13, Republicans cynically sought to derail the bipartisan America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, critical to our competitiveness and creating good paying jobs in the 21st Century. On May 19th, the bill received bipartisan support of the majority of Members present, but it failed to garner the two-thirds required for bills considered as a suspension.
On May 28th, the House passed a new America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (H.R. 5116) that invests 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. The bill is identical to the bill first considered, including the 52 amendments adopted on the Floor, with two exceptions:
- the authorization period is reduced from 5 years to 3 years (reducing the cost almost in half)
- it includes the language from the motion to recommit banning the use of authorized funds to pay the salary of federal employees disciplined for looking at pornography
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:
- Keeping our nation on a path to double funding for basic scientific research, crucial to some of our most innovative breakthroughs, over 10 years
- Creating jobs with innovative technology loan guarantees for small and mid-sized manufacturers and Regional Innovation Clusters to expand scientific and economic collaboration
- Promoting high-risk high reward research to pioneer cutting edge discoveries through ARPA-E
- Creating the next generation of entrepreneurs by improving science, math, technology, and engineering education at all levels
The new bill is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and Information Technology Industry Council. The original bill has broad support with the endorsement of more than 750 business, research and academic organizations, including Business Roundtable, TechNet, American Council on Education, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
More on the specific provisions:
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. Created in 2009, ARPA-E is modeled after DARPA which created a culture of innovation and lead to breakthroughs like GPS and the Internet.
- Establishing Energy Innovation Hubs - multidisciplinary collaborations that support research, development, and commercial application of advanced energy technologies, with activities of each Hub centralized at one location where possible. Each Hub will have a single technological focus that currently presents a critical barrier to achieving our national energy innovation goals.
- 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.
- Directing the National Science Foundation (NSF) to invest at least five percent of its research budget in high-risk, high-reward basic research.
- 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
- A new report 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 help them access capital to become more efficient and stay competitive
- Coordinating manufacturing research and development carried out across the federal government
- Authorizing NSF to support fundamental research leading to transformative advances in manufacturing
- Reorganizing NIST labs to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of technology and better meet the needs of industry in the 21st century
- Giving NIST a role in facilitating cross-agency coordination when the federal government is involved with the development of international technical standards, that supplements the agency's current role in helping develop technical standards within the U.S, to help drive competition, increase product choices, and lower costs
- Ensuring that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at NIST better reflects the needs and challenges facing manufacturers today.
- 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.
- 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.
- Working to assist small- and medium-sized manufacturers in reducing their energy use and environmental waste (NIST).
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;
- Providing grants to increase the number and quality of students receiving undergraduate degrees in STEM and to improve the STEM learning outcomes for all undergraduate students;
- 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; and
- Establishing fellowships to provide recent doctoral degree graduates in STEM fields with the necessary skills to assume leadership roles in STEM education research, program development, and evaluation of education programs.
- Ensuring greater coordination of STEM education programs across federal agencies.
- Increasing participation by women and minorities in STEM fields to strengthen and diversify the STEM workforce:
- Providing institutional integration grants to help colleges and universities increase retention, recruitment and degree attainment of underrepresented groups in STEM by looking for synergies across scattered campus efforts;
- Ensuring that smaller institutions, including minority serving institutions, are integrated more fully into research partnerships with research universities; and
- Prioritizing inclusion of minority serving institutions under the Partnerships for Innovation program.
What People are Saying About the America COMPETES Act
National Association of Manufacturers
Our economic future relies more than ever on our ability to innovate, and reauthorizing the COMPETES Act will help manufacturers prosper in a globally integrated and highly competitive marketplace. [4/20/10]
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. [5/10/10]
Council on Competitiveness
During this time of economic tumult, those countries that look to the future, arming their citizens with the tools to compete in a global economy, will emerge stronger and more prosperous. Three years ago, Democrats and Republicans came together to draft and pass the America COMPETES legislation, putting the world on notice that the United States was committed to maintaining its position as the world's leader in innovation. That time has come to reassert this commitment and put the country on the path to long term economic growth by reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act and ensuring that investments in science and technology create new jobs and new industries here at home. [4/26/10]
America's CEOs are committed to accelerating U.S. innovation and boosting the worldwide competitiveness of the United States. They understand that investments in scientific research and math and science education help create the platform for sustained, long-term growth... The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act will provide critical support for the foundations of America's innovation system….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. [4/27/10]