America COMPETES Reauthorization Being Signed Into Law
Christmas came early today for STEM education. In an unexpected move at the tail end of the “lame duck” session, Congress passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (H.R. 5116) this afternoon. The bill is now on its way to the President’s desk for signature.
The COMPETES Act is game-changing piece of legislation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, education and makes significant investments in innovation and basic research. The bill includes the STEM Education Coordination Act, which will provide overall coordination of federal programs and activities in support of STEM education. It also reauthorizes a number of other federal STEM education programs including those at the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy.
The House had originally passed a version of the bill in May, but analysts had predicted that the bill was not likely to get through the Senate before the end of this Congress. However, the Senate passed an amended version of COMPETES by unanimous consent last Friday. Today, the House approved the Senate’s amendments and passed the bill with a vote of 228-130.
Rep. Bart Gordon, Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology said, “While there have been concessions made, the Senate’s amendments preserve the intent of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report and the original COMPETES. It keeps our basic research agencies on a doubling path, it continues to invest in high-risk, high-reward energy technology development, it will help improve STEM education, and it will help unleash American innovation.”
Gordon, who is now retiring, is the author of the bill and has been one of COMPETES’ biggest champions. “I cannot think of anything I would rather do as one of my final acts in Congress than sending this bill, with strong bipartisan support, to the president’s desk.”
The passage of the COMPETES Reauthorization comes on the heels of the report released in September, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. The report references daunting statistics on America’s progress and future outlook regarding global competitiveness and innovation. The authors of the report stressed the necessity for major investments in basic research, STEM education, and innovation in order to maintain our competitive position in the world.