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December 22, 2010
Legislation invests in science education, innovative research, and manufacturing
Dec. 21 -- Today, Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) helped lead passage of bipartisan legislation to create jobs and maintain America's economic leadership by increasing investment in science education, advanced research, and manufacturing innovation. Congressman Lipinski is a co-author of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, H.R. 5116, which the President is now expected to sign into law.
"I'm proud to have helped write and pass the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which makes essential, job-creating investments in advanced research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education," said Congressman Lipinski, a former professor and one of the few members of Congress trained as an engineer. "I am grateful for the valuable feedback I received from the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public Land-grant Universities while writing the NSF title of this bill. Because of their expertise, and because of what I learned from scientists and research administrators across the country, I believe this legislation will have an enduring positive impact on university-based research and STEM education programs.
"Recent months have brought further confirmation that America is at risk of losing its competitive edge. New international test results show American students continue to lag behind their overseas peers, and a follow-up to the influential Rising Above the Gathering Storm report showed other countries continue to catch up and threaten to overtake the U.S. in key measures of innovation. The investments the COMPETES reauthorization makes in American innovation are critical to reversing this trend and putting our country on a path to job creation and long-term economic growth. I am also pleased that, as I fought for over many months, the bill takes numerous steps to promote manufacturing innovation, including through the adoption of ideas from my National Manufacturing Strategy Act.
"However, as I stated on the House floor today, it is of the utmost importance that we realize that passage of this bill is just the beginning. As we move forward, I will continue to urge my colleagues to join me in fighting to make sure that COMPETES is fully funded. If we want to maintain our economic strength, we cannot shortchange these critical investments in our people or our research infrastructure."
The COMPETES reauthorization includes Congressman Lipinski's National Science Foundation reauthorization bill, H.R. 4997. Under the legislation, annual funding for STEM education will increase significantly, rising by nearly 20 percent by 2013, and new grant and fellowship programs are authorized to improve STEM education. As a strong proponent of increased funding for academic research infrastructure, Congressman Lipinski held a subcommittee hearing and listening sessions around the country on this issue. He also successfully defended the Academic Research Facilities Modernization Program from an attempt to repeal it. While not satisfied with the final bill's level of support for upgrading research facilities at universities and National Laboratories, the Congressman was able to require the National Science Board to develop recommendations for better handling mid-scale research instrument proposals. He will continue fighting to help American academic institutions modernize their research facilities and retain the best researchers.
The NSF reauthorization also authorizes grants to colleges and universities for high-tech manufacturing research. As called for by the Congressman, the bill provides loan guarantees for manufacturers for the use or production of innovative technologies and requires the government to provide manufacturers with improved access to powerful supercomputers at our National Laboratories that can increase product innovation and reduce costs. Like Congressman Lipinski's bipartisan National Manufacturing Strategy Act, H.R. 4692 -- which the House passed in July -- COMPETES now requires a systematic assessment of American competitiveness and the development of recommendations for strengthening the U.S. industrial base and promoting innovation.
In keeping with language Congressman Lipinski included in the House version of COMPETES, the bill features a program to offer cash prizes for solving crucial scientific problems. Such prizes have a long history and a strong track record of sparking notable achievements and discoveries.
"The reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act takes a critical piece of legislation and makes it even better," Congressman Lipinski said. "It is an important first step on the path to doubling investment in basic research programs; supports transformative research in key areas such as clean energy; improves STEM education; invests in research to enhance the manufacturing sector's productivity and innovation; and improves programs to ensure researchers' discoveries translate into new products, jobs, and companies. This legislation builds on the longstanding and highly successful partnership between the federal government and our nation's colleges and universities, which has yielded countless extraordinary scientific advances and has helped lay the foundation for America's economic growth and prosperity over the last 60 years."
Source: Office of Congressman Dan Lipinski
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