"New" Competitiveness Legislation Introduced in the Senate

By David Bruggeman

In the ongoing saga of the American Competitiveness Initiative (see our previous weblog posts on the subject) a “new” piece of legislation has been introduced in Congress. On Tuesday Senator Frist (R-TN), along with Senator Reid (D-NV) introduced the National Competitiveness Investment Act (S3936 – currently unavailable online). This is in effect a consolidation of the pre-existing Senate legislation from 2006 (the PACE-Energy Act, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, and the PACE-Education Act).

While S3936 is not a carbon copy of the previous legislation, most of their provisions survive in this bill. Previous legislation covered the following:

  • The PACE-Energy Act (S2197) focuses on supporting basic research programs at the Department of Energy, and DoE efforts to support math and science education. The bill would also establish an Advanced Research Projects Agency for energy, or ARPA-E.
  • The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S2802) authorizes increased funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, with a focus on grants and programs aimed at national competitiveness, including studies by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Academies. The legislation would also close the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce, and establishes a set-aside program for each Federal agency involved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research.
  • The PACE-Education Act (S2198) focuses on education, with new scholarships for students studying math and science, new research grants and promoting AP math and science courses.

Given the current state of the legislative calendar, with the House expected to recess Friday and the Senate next week, the only likely opportunity for this bill to proceed to the President’s desk by the end of this Congress is during the lame duck session scheduled for after the November elections. If this is a high enough Congressional priority to have this happen remains to be seen.