Corporations, Universities, Associations, and Organizations Urge Senate Leaders to Pass COMPETES Legislation

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Publication date: 
5 November 2010
Number: 
111

One  of the most important congressional agenda items for the science community is  the enactment of a reauthorization bill for the America COMPETES Act.  Today approximately 250 signatories and  endorsing organizations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging “the Senate to  pass the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act in time to work with the  House to make it possible for the President to sign this important legislation  into law before the end of this Congress.”

The  diversity of organizations signing the letter demonstrates the importance of  this legislation.  Among them are the Air  Force Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association  of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, AT&T,  Battelle, Boeing Company, Business Roundtable, California Institute of  Technology, Caterpillar, Council on Competitiveness, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Google,  Harvard University, IBM Corporation, Intel Corporation, Johns Hopkins  University, Macy’s Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Microsoft  Corporation, National Association of Manufacturers, Northrup Grumman, Semiconductor  Industry Association, State Farm, Texas Instruments, and the U.S. Chamber of  Commerce.  Also endorsing this letter are  the American Institute of Physics and six of its Member Societies: American  Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, American  Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, AVS, and the Optical Society.

The  letter was sent under the auspices of the Task Force on American Innovation.  A copy of this letter and its  signatories and endorsing organizations can be viewed here

Reauthorization  of the America COMPETES Act is of particular importance because of the upcoming  changes in Congress.  While this  legislation would not provide funding to double the budgets of the DOE Office of  Science, the laboratories of the National Institute of Standards and  Technology, and the National Science Foundation, it would set important  milestones to guide Congress in making appropriations for these agencies in  coming years.  In doing so, it would  continue the funding trajectory first established by President George W. Bush,  and continued by President Barack Obama. 

The  House passed its version of an America COMPETES reauthorization bill this  summer.  A key Senate committee approved  a counterpart bill, but it has not come to the Senate floor.  Both bills will die at the end of this  Congress.  The Senate has a huge amount  of work to accomplish during a very few weeks when it returns later this  month.  Time is of the essence.

The  letter follows:

“Dear  Leaders Reid and McConnell:

“The  community of industry, academic, and professional organizations listed below  join in     urging  the Senate to pass the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act in time to work  with the House to make it possible for the President to sign this important legislation  into law before the end of this Congress.

“The  original America COMPETES Act, enacted with strong bipartisan support in 2007, was  designed to respond to concerns raised by the seminal National Academies’  report,     Rising  Above the Gathering Storm. The Act has played a crucial role in charting our     nation’s  path forward by focusing attention on the critical steps our nation must take  to     foster  innovation and keep the United States competitive in the global economy –     investing  in basic research and our workforce through effective STEM programs.

“However,  the original COMPETES Act was meant to be the first, three-year installment     of  a longer-term commitment toward achieving these goals. Sustaining these  investments     in  research, and developing a highly educated, scientifically literate workforce  are both     essential  to our country’s continued success in making the scientific discoveries and developing  the cutting-edge technologies that will propel our economy in the future.     As  you know, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved S. 3605,  the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, in July; and the Committees  on Energy and Natural Resources and Health, Education, Labor, and     Pensions  are ready to add their portions of the legislation when it is brought forward  for     consideration  on the Senate floor. We believe that this bill will once again have the     overwhelming  bipartisan support it garnered in 2007, and we urge the Senate to recognize the  continued importance of the America COMPETES initiative by passing the bill  this year.

“We  recognize the dire fiscal challenges facing the nation and the difficult  choices on     federal  spending that policymakers must make. Continued strong funding of basic research  and STEM education programs will help ensure the economic growth needed to restore  long-term fiscal strength and national prosperity.

“We  look forward to working with you to help advance and enact this vital  legislation.”

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