June 2010

America COMPETES Passes Committee

Bart Gordon
House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.

Some Republicans Try to Limit Science Spending

 

On April 28, the House Science and Technology Committee passed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, a bill that re-examines and redefines the role of several key scientific agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. But, even as the bill passed 29 to 8 with overwhelming bipartisan support, several Republican members offered amendments to reduce science spending.

“This bill is a big deal,” said Chairman Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., in his opening remarks, characterizing the legislation as “an important step in our innovation agenda” affecting businesses and universities across the country.

The COMPETES bill would reauthorize the activities of the NSF, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and the DOE Office of Science. If maintained, the recommended funding increases would double the budget of the NSF and the Office of Science over the next 10 years.

“The path is simple,” Gordon said. “Research leads to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs.” Gordon said that over the past 20 years, the U.S. technology edge had slipped and that reversing that trend would require immediate additional investments.

But, several Republican members were concerned about the spending levels authorized in the bill.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., offered an amendment that would reduce spending and the length of the bill’s authorization from five years to three.

“This is a common-sense amendment,” Broun said. He emphasized that eliminating two years of authorization would help the committee to maintain better oversight of the programs outlined in the bill.

A few Republicans supported Broun’s efforts. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., offered two of his own similar amendments to control spending.

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