House GOP stops major science, technology bill

The legislation presented May 19 restored the programs the Republicans tried to kill but reduced to three years, rather than five, the life of the measure—thus cutting the original $85 billion price tag to about $47 billion. It also included the anti-pornography provision.

But Democrats made a losing gamble by bringing the bill up under a procedure that prevented Republicans from offering more amendments but required a two-thirds majority for passage. The vote was 261-148 for passage, short of the two-thirds needed. Every Democrat supported it, but only 15 of 163 voting Republicans backed it.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement that he was “extremely disappointed Republicans continued to play political games, voting against a job-creating measure that had bipartisan support.” He said he planned to bring the bill back to the floor soon under normal rules requiring only a majority for passage.

The original 2007 America COMPETES Act grew out of a 2005 National Academies report warning that the country’s economic future was jeopardized by its lack of focus on science and technology education. COMPETES is an acronym for Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science.

Besides providing additional funding for NSF and other government agencies, the 2010 bill would provide additional support for scholarship and training programs to recruit new K-12 math and science teachers, and to enhance the skills of existing teachers. It also provides scholarship programs and incentives for students studying science and technology at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In a May 19 letter to members of Congress, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President R. Bruce Josten urged lawmakers to support the measure.

“The Chamber believes [the bill] would strengthen U.S. competitiveness by improving America’s scientific and economic leadership, and making stronger investments in science, innovation, research, and education,” Josten said.

The bill is H.R. 5325.



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