Press Release

Research Supplies the New Ideas that Fuel the Economy

By SpaceRef Editor
December 21, 2005
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Gordon Introduces Legislation to Advance U.S. Research Capabilities

(Washington, DC)  In an ongoing effort to strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness, House Science Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon introduced the third in a series of legislative initiatives designed to ensure quality jobs for our kids and technological leadership in a global marketplace.

H.R. 4596, the Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act will strengthen the U.S. commitment to scientific research that forms the foundation for our high quality of life, our national security, and our hopes for ensuring the well being of future generations.

“We must provide the resources needed to sustain a robust research enterprise and nurture the development of new scientists and engineers,” stated Rep. Gordon.  “When our country recommits itself to research and development, our economy benefits.  These are the steps to a bright job outlook and profitable future.”

The legislation implements recent findings of a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel led by Norm Augustine.   As noted in the panel’s report entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, the time for action is now.  “When a group of the country’s greatest scientists, innovators, engineers, educators and researchers tell us that we can and must do better if the U.S. is going to have a chance of competing with our international neighbors, we’ve got to listen,” continued Rep. Gordon.

This piece of Gordon legislation implements the committee’s call to “sustain and strengthen the nation’s traditional commitment to the long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformational to maintain the flow of new ideas that fuel the economy, provide security, and enhance the quality of life.”

H.R. 4596 authorizes a 10% increases per year in funding for basic research in the physical sciences, mathematical sciences, and engineering at the principal federal agencies supporting such research.  These increases, if sustained, would lead to a doubling of basic research funding in these critical areas over 7 years.

The bill also takes action to develop the research talent needed for the future by providing for up to 200 new awards per year, of $100,000 per year for 5 years, to outstanding early-career researchers.  It seeks to enlarge the pool of graduate students in science, math and engineering by creating a graduate fellowship program, with 5,000 new fellowships per year for individuals pursuing studies in areas of national need.

Finally, the bill establishes a presidential innovation award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest and provides for the refurbishment of academic and government research laboratories, an essential factor to enable leading-edge research. 

H.R. 4596 accompanies two bills Ranking Member Gordon has already introduced to implement the Augustine recommendations.  H.R. 4434, 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act, and H.R. 4435, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) Act, were introduced earlier this month.  H.R. 4434 implements the Augustine Committee’s highest priority by  providing scholarships to science, math and engineering students who commit to become science or math teachers at elementary and secondary schools.  It also includes programs to improve the skills of current teachers.  H.R. 4435 aims to reduce U.S. foreign energy dependence by 20% over a 10 year period.

“These three bills are a response to a serious challenge to our Nation’s future economic prosperity,” said Rep. Gordon.  “This is a call for action by the Congress and the Administration.  The conclusions and recommendations in this report are not new.  The problem is that neither the Administration nor Congress has made any real efforts to act.”

“To ensure our nation’s future economic competitiveness, we’ve got to ensure that our children have well-paid, challenging jobs.  I am committed to working with the private-sector, Members of Congress and the Administration in turning this legislation into funded programs,” concluded Rep. Gordon.

A section-by-section of the bill is attached.  More information may be found on the Science Committee Dems’ website at http://sciencedems.house.gov.

SpaceRef staff editor.