Washington DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed two Science and Technology Committee bills aimed at advancing American competitiveness in the global economy.  The two bills, H.R. 362, 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act and H.R. 363, Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act both passed with broad bipartisan support.

“It is important that our nation continues to lead the world in technological innovation,” said Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX).  “Americans understand that if we are to become energy independent we will need solutions that promote clean, affordable, and reliable American energy resources.  That is why we introduced this competitiveness agenda and that is why I continue to support this initiative.”

Both bills were drafted based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences’ report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which outlined America’s relative decline in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), when compared with other nations that are investing generously in STEM education and basic research.  Two years ago in response to the report, President Bush introduced the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), with the goal of bolstering American STEM education and basic research.  The two bills that were passed today support the goals of ACI and work to improve American competitiveness.       

Subcommittee on Research and Science Education Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) also praised passage of the bills, saying, “These bills represent a substantial commitment to expanding our ability to remain globally competitive by bolstering U.S. research and educational capacity. H.R. 362 and H.R. 363 will help improve STEM education at all levels – from elementary school all the way up to graduate education — and will help to ensure that our teachers are adequately prepared to teach science and math in a manner that excites students about these subjects.”

H.R. 362 strengthens STEM education in the U.S. to ensure that our nation’s workforce can compete globally in high-tech industries.  Specifically, it authorizes programs to improve STEM education at all levels – K-12, undergraduate, and graduate.  These programs will develop and provide teacher training, attract math and science majors to teaching, and improve undergraduate math, science, and engineering courses.    

H.R. 363 supports high-risk research, young researchers, and research infrastructure in the U.S. to ensure that the next generation of high-tech industries and products are developed in the U.S.  It authorizes an existing NSF program that helps fund young faculty in which NSF provides grants to help researchers establish a lab and pursue risky research in emerging fields.

“These grants will encourage scientists  and  engineers  in  the  early  stage  of  their academic careers to establish  innovative  lines  of  research,” said Science and Technology Committee Member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who introduced similar legislation in the 109th Congress.  “This approach continues the successful model of partnership between the federal government and American Universities.”