America Competes Act Gets Big Bipartisan Boost

Ann All

There's an inverse relationship between the degree of bipartisan warmth in Congress and the level of controversy in legislative proposals.

 

Thus the recent America Competes Act -- with its "warm and fuzzy" provisions for more funding for education and alternative energy -- fared far better than theill-fated immigration reform proposal.

 

The House passed the America Competes Act, which calls for some $33 billion in new spending over the next three years, with a 367-57 vote on Aug. 2, reports SiliconValley.com, and the Senate is expected to sign off on the same bill today.

 

Though the Bush administration hasn't announced a firm position -- positive or negative -- on the bill, it enjoys a high degree of bipartisan support.

 

Among the bill's provisions: a twofold increase in the National Science Foundation's budget over the next four years; grants for hiring and training about 25,000 new teachers in science, engineering, math and foreign languages; and $300 million to create an independent agency to foster ventures in energy, including alternative and renewable sources.


 

While the U.S. remains the world economic leader, the Council on Competitiveness, among others, has warned that it risks losing its edge if it doesn't act to reverse the trend ofdeclining numbers of science and engineering graduates.

 

While tech companies have long lobbied for legislation like the America Competes Act, IBM took an interesting tack on keeping workers competitive by creating specialized savings accounts for its employees to use on education and training.



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