House Fails to Pass America COMPETES Reauthorization Bill
May 20, 2010
On Wednesday, May 19, a vote to pass HR 5325
failed by a vote of 261-148 (under special rules, the bill required a
2/3 vote to pass). HR 5325 was a re-worked version of HR 5116,
that had been pulled from the floor after Republicans added a
poison-pill amendment to the bill that would require any federal
employee who viewed pornography on a government computer to be fired
and froze America COMPETES programs at the FY 2010 level. (For a
pointed look at the political maneuvering, see Norman
Orenstein’s opinion piece in the May 19 issue of Roll Call).
America COMPETES, first enacted in 2007, authorized funding for the
National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and
Technology, and programs in the Energy Department, including new and
expanded programs to support STEM education.
Prior to rejection by the House, Rep. Bart Gordon, chair of the
House Committee on Science and Technology, released the following
The reintroduced America COMPETES Reauthorization Act is
a 50 percent cut in the funding path from H.R. 5116 as introduced.
While I certainly would have preferred the stability a five-year
authorization would have given our science agencies, I am willing to
compromise with the Minority, in the interest of getting a good bill
through the House and to our colleagues in the Senate. This legislation
is too important to our nation’s scientific and economic leadership to
let it fall victim to political gridlock. The bill has a less steep
funding trajectory than the 2007 COMPETES, H.R. 2272, which passed the
110th Congress 367 to 57, with the support of 143 Republicans, 101 of
whom are serving in the 111th Congress.
The bill that came out of the Committee had been developed with
bipartisan cooperation between Chairman Gordon and the ranking
Republican member, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (MI), a long-time friend of STEM
research and education, both of whom will retire from Congress after
this year. The MAA, along with other STEM societies, advocated on
behalf of the bill, and worked with committee staff to support efforts
to produce a strong bill that would help move STEM research and
education forward, and supported passage of both the original and
revised versions. This work will continue, but at this point it is
unclear whether the House or Senate can muster enough support to bring
the legislation forward in the relatively limited amount of time before
the mid-term elections.
To learn more about MAA science policy efforts, visit www.maa.org/sciencepolicy.