U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for H.R. 2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (COMPETES) Act, part of the House Democrats’ Innovation Agenda.  The bill passed by a vote of 367 to 57.

Smith and his colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition were instrumental in crafting the Agenda in the 109th Congress.

“It is absolutely essential that the U.S. maintain its competitive edge in the world market  This bill will help us take the strong, needed steps to get our children the education they need to be prepared for the modern economy,” Smith said. 

The bill authorizes funding for programs to create more qualified teachers in science and math fields and to support scientific research and innovation through the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

H.R. 2272 is based on the 2005 National Academies report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” which found that the U.S. must take immediate steps to keep its competitive edge in the world economy.  H.R. 2272 incorporated suggestions from the National Academies that would: 

  • Keep the National Science Foundation and the NIST research labs on a 10-year doubling path;
  • Create thousands of new teachers and provide current teachers with content and academic expertise in their area of teaching;
  • Expand programs to enhance the undergraduate education of the future science and engineering workforce;
  • Expand early career grant programs for outstanding young investigators at both the NSF
  • Foundation and the Department of Energy;
  • Strengthen interagency planning and coordination for research infrastructure and information technology;
  • Establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy to recruit and hire the nation’s most talented scientists and engineers who will research and rapidly develop clean, revolutionary energy technologies to be pushed from the lab into the marketplace.

The legislation authorizes $22 billion over fiscal years 2008 – 2010 for research, education and other programs at the NSF; $2.65 billion for the research labs, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other activities at the NIST, and $17 billion, over fiscal years 2008 to 2010, for programs at the DOE, including $150 million for K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.

The Senate must now approve the conference report before it can be signed into law by the President.