Created by on 12/20/2010 12:00:00 AM

In last-minute legislative action, the Senate passed (without a recorded vote) an amended version of HR 5116, a bill to renew programs authorized by the America COMPETES Act (originally passed in 2007). Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (WV) issued a press release applauding the passage of the legislation noting that “This is an investment in America’s future and our long-term competitiveness in the global marketplace. The investments we make now in science, technology, research and STEM education will pay incredible dividends down the road.” 

The final COMPETES legislation represents a compromise between the House and Senate bills (HR 5116/ S 3605) that were approved by the relevant committees this summer and provides a three-year reauthorization for key federal science agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy Office of Science (DoE SC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. In addition, the revised bill creates a path to double authorized funding levels for scientific research agencies within ten years. Over the short term, recommended funding levels for NSF would grow from $7.8 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2012 to $8.3 billion in FY 2013 while DoE SC increases from $5.6 billion to $6 billion over the same time frame. The legislation also creates an interagency Public Access Committee to coordinate policies expanding public access to federally funded research across the government.

Because the bill was changed in the Senate, it must now go back to the House for a final vote. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon said he expects the House to consider the revised bill on December 21st. “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. 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,” stated Gordon following the Senate vote.