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Pelosi on COMPETES Act: 'We Are Keeping America First'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which the House will vote on tomorrow.  Below are the Speaker's remarks. 

“Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding. 

“Before I begin my remarks on the legislation before us today, I want to join my colleagues in saluting the wonderful work of Muftiah McCartin.  She began her work on the Hill, could it be, 1976?  I can't believe that.  She has worked on the Appropriations Committee and is now leaving her tenure as Staff Director on the Rules Committee.  We all know that she loves this institution, has poured her heart and soul into her work.  We were all so proud when she became the Staff Director of the Rules Committee.  Her policy and technical expertise have served both sides of the aisle over many years.  She is the mother of four children and hard to imagine she is now a grandmother.  We have been blessed with her service over many, many years.  She will be sorely missed.  Muftiah, thank you so much for all that you have done.  This is coming as news to me, by the way, so I am quite taken aback by the fact that you are leaving us.  But thank you for your service.  We wish you well in the future.  We have been very blessed by your service.  Thank you.  Congratulations on where you are going next.     

“Madam Speaker, nearly 50 years ago, President Kennedy summed up America's commitment to innovation when he launched the man on the moon initiative to send a man to the moon and back within 10 years.  At that time, he said and I quote: ‘The vows of this nation can be fulfilled only if we are first, and therefore we intend to be first.  Our leadership in science and in industry, our hoped for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others all require us to make this effort.'

“Over the past half century since then, Americans have lived up to these words.  Science and technological innovation have formed the backbone of our progress as a people and our prosperity as a nation.

“And today, in passing this innovation bill--this COMPETES Act--we are reaffirming our leadership ‘in science and in industry.' And we are keeping America first.

“Few have done more for the cause of innovation in the Congress than Chairman Bart Gordon, who was first in sounding the alarm and in heeding the call of the report ‘Rise Above the Gathering Storm.'  That was a report presented by a great innovation leader, Norm Augustine, and the National Academy of Sciences.

“It provoked us to send a team of experts, of Members, legislators around the country.  Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren from the Silicon Valley invited Chairman George Miller, Chair of the Policy Committee and Education and Labor Committee, to a meeting at Stanford University to launch a series of meetings in a bipartisan way to develop an Innovation Agenda.  We met, of course, with academics.  We met with workers.  We met with venture capitalists to see where the private dollar would go because we believed that this had to be a market-oriented initiative to build the competitiveness of America.  Every aspect of putting together an Innovation Agenda.  And we met all across the country to do that.  We had particularly strong presentations from members of the Asian American community who were quite impatient with the lack of progress that was happening in terms of public policy and accelerated the pace of our timetable for this. 

“And so, what came from that was the COMPETES Act that Chairman Gordon was instrumental in bringing to the floor in 2007.  We had strong bipartisan support in passing that legislation, I am pleased to say.  And so we are here today to reauthorize the COMPETES Act to spur innovation, invest in cutting-edge research, modernize manufacturing and increase opportunity. 

“As a result, new industries will provide good jobs for our workers, markets for American products will expand, we will reassert our leadership throughout the world, and give future generations a better chance to realize the American Dream.  It's about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.  Simply put, this legislation supports our efforts to keep America number one.  Following President Kennedy's lead to keep America first, and following the call of President Obama at his inauguration for “swift, bold, action” now -- to do just that. 

“The COMPETES Act will:

•    Keep our nation on a path that we promise to double the funding for scientific research over 10 years

•    Create jobs with innovation and technology loan guarantees for small and medium size manufacturers and enhancing manufacturing extension partnerships -- these partnerships are a very valuable tool in job creation

•    Promote regional innovation clusters -- this is new -- that strengthen regional economies and expand scientific collaboration

•    Invest in high-risk, high-reward research through ARPA-E, helping ensure American energy independence.

“This bill will help raise up the next generation of entrepreneurs by improving science, math, technology and engineering education at all levels.  It will also train children -- young people to think in an entrepreneurial way.  And it will secure a central role for women and minorities in these fields. 

“As we go forward with this innovation -- we had the Industrial Revolution, we had the technological revolution, and now we have this revolution -- we want to do so in a way that brings everyone into the fullest participation in the prosperity, the new prosperity of America. 

“In this Congress, there are four words, in addition to jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs, which is a four letter word we use all the time -- but there are four words that describe our agenda.  They are science, science, science, and science.  Science to provide health care for all Americans -- in our health care bill that we passed and in the Recovery Act of last year we had major investments in science and technology to make America healthier.  Science to keep America number one in innovation -- in the new technologies to protect the environment and the rest, we have to be competitive -- science and technology take us there.  Science to keep our air clean and our water clean for our children and safety of the environment in which they live.  And science to promote our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and to advance the technologies to keep us preeminent in terms of our country's defense. 

“This bill comes down to good paying jobs for Americans, strong American leadership in the global economy, and long-term growth for America's workers and families.  It does so in a way that doesn't just put people back to work, as we are trying to address the need for more jobs.  It puts them back to work in better jobs.  It puts more people to work, some who have been unemployed -- no matter how well educated they are or how economically deprived their areas have been.  We're bringing women, minorities, urban areas, rural people and those with a wide-range of educational background with the prospects for great success. 

“With that, Mr. Chairman and Madam Speaker, I urge all our colleagues to make a very strong bipartisan vote for jobs, for science, and to keep America number one by voting for the COMPETES Act.”