24 November 2010

Will America COMPETES Reauthorization Die in the Senate?

Posted by John Freeland

Passed by the House of Representatives last summer, H.R. 5116: America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 is a key funding mechanism supporting science and technology. Its companion bill in the Senate, S. 3605, needs to pass in order to continue funding the National Science Foundation and other major sources of research support. From the Coalition for National Science Funding:

(National Science Foundation) NSF is the only federal agency that supports research and education across all science and engineering disciplines. This support has led to many fundamental breakthroughs in these disciplines which in turn have contributed to U.S. technological innovation and therefore to our economic strength.

With the U.S. currently experiencing a challenging economic environment, robust investments in NSF should be viewed as part of a long-term strategy to address our economic vitality. Such funding is imperative to maintain a prosperous innovation pipeline, by training the innovation workforce, creating new products and improving current products.

Groups from science, education, and business communities have endorsed H.R. 5116, including the American Geophysical Union. However, despite broad support, the short amount of time left in the current Congress coupled with the prospects of a drawn-out fight over taxes threatens the survival of this legislation.

If the bill dies, it would go back to “square one” in the next Congress under very different conditions in the House of Representatives. A portal for contacting U.S. Senators is available here.