Legislation Advances President’s American Competitiveness Initiative

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 1868, the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act of 2007, which authorizes funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for three years, through fiscal year 2010.  Within the Department of Commerce, NIST is a non-regulatory agency that plays a key role in supporting American competitiveness, and is one of the three agencies targeted for a doubled budget in ten years by the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), announced in early 2006.  NIST supports American industry by developing tools to measure, evaluate and standardize, enabling U.S. companies to innovate and remain competitive.

“NIST plays a unique role in that its scientists and engineers have a 100-year plus history of working directly with American industries to address their needs for measurement methods, tools, data, and technology,” said Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX).  “These are the building blocks that allow industry to grow and prosper.  H.R. 1868 authorizes an investment in our future, an investment for continued technological advancement, and an investment to keep the U.S. a leader in the global marketplace.”

This bill authorizes for fiscal year 2008, a budget of $492 million for scientific research at NIST, which is $68 million above the 2007 level appropriated in the continuing resolution, H.J. Res. 20.  H.R. 1868 also authorizes increased funding for construction of NIST laboratories and advances the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  MEP is a public-private partnership, supported by the House of Representatives in the 108th and 109th Congress, that helps businesses improve manufacturing processes and technologies.  Other manufacturing provisions introduced in earlier legislation by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, were also included in the authorization.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, praised the authorization, saying, “Today, Congress took a bold step toward ensuring our nation’s technological competitiveness for decades to come.  We have helped fulfill the President’s competitiveness initiative, and in turn helped turn cutting-edge research into successful commercial products.”

H.R. 1868 also provides funding for the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), a remodeled version of the Advanced Technology Partnership (ATP), which was eliminated in the President’s fiscal year 2008 budget request.  TIP will fund high-risk technology development, focusing on small and medium-sized companies.