Inouye, Stevens Introduce Competitiveness Bill

March 5, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) introduced legislation today with Leadership and Committee Members that would increase science research investment; strengthen educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and develop an innovation infrastructure.
“The United States can and must remain strong and competitive in the face of emerging challenges from the rest of the world. We will begin by strengthening science research and improving education to generate the ideas that U.S. companies can transform into the next breakthrough product,” said Senator Inouye. “This bill uses educational programs to inspire students from kindergarten through graduate school to pursue math and science. It also ensures that the nation’s enterprise research is well-funded and focused on the needs of the nation.”
 “Our nation needs to address the serious competitiveness challenges that it faces, and this bill provides a great start,” said Senator Stevens. “By increasing our investment in basic research and improving the teaching of math, science and engineering, we are sending an important message that we are serious about the future of America.”
The bill would double funding to the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy’s Office of Science. It would also direct the National Aeronautic and Space Administration to increase basic research and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to promote leadership in the ocean and atmospheric research fields.
The America COMPETES ACT authorizes grants for the expansion and promotion of math and science education programs from elementary through graduate school. Recent reports have shown a decline in U.S. student participation in the math and science fields, and as a result a decline in the U.S.’s competitive edge. The bill would combat this trend by expanding math and science opportunities in schools, encouraging scholarship programs for math, science and engineering students, and facilitating education partnerships with the National Science Foundation and the National Laboratories.   
The original cosponsors of the bill include: Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Pete V. Dominici (R-N.M.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-Conn.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).