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Andrew Zimmerman Jones

America COMPETES ... finally

By August 4, 2007

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Both the Senate and the House have voted in support of the America COMPETES Act. The bill now proceeds to President Bush for authorization or veto, though he has shown himself reluctant to use the veto during his administration and one would hope that this would continue.

Back in April of 2006, the United States Senate passed the American COMPETES Act (bill S.761), which stands for Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science. This bill, in the inscrutable methods of Congress, was incorporated in July of this year into the House bill H.R. 2272, by the same name.

The House vote was 367-57 in favor and the Senate vote on the bill was unanimous. This is an extremely clear bipartisan initiative, which reflects the promise of the Democrats when they re-took Congress that they would attempt to retain America's prominence in technological innovations. The bill incorporates the recommendations of the 2005 National Academies panel provided to help promote a healthy U.S. economy.

President Bush has his own competitive plan, the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), though the America COMPETES Act increases funding of pure research in many agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, more than ACI proposes. The administration, through presidential science advisor John Marburger, has expressed concern that the bill "overauthorizes" in requesting so much be spent on this area. However, as with all bills, the funding of the Act will require a separate appropriations bill, and we'll have to wait to see if the money is actually there when the time comes.

What do you think of the America COMPETES Act? Is it too aggressive, perhaps just an entitlement program for research scientists? Or is it a necessary step in helping the American economy grow stronger? Should we perhaps be more cautious, as in the President's ACI? Leave a comment to let us know!

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