Increases investment in the fields of science, math and engineering

WASHINGTON – Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, today cosponsored the Protecting America’s Competitive Advantage (PACE) Act to address America’s competitiveness in the fields of science, math and engineering.   A strong proponent of increased investment in research and education, particularly in science and engineering, Sen. Hutchison joined Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in introducing legislation to improve our nation’s deteriorating competitive advantage in these areas. 

“America’s continued leadership in scientific research and education is critical to the future of our economic and national security,” Sen. Hutchison said.  “We currently face the risk of forfeiting our dominance in research and development.  Congress must devote increased resources to enhance education in the hard sciences and develop the next generation of scientists to develop technological advancements.”

Building on Sen. Hutchison’s recent NASA authorization legislation, one key portion of the bill would increase the basic research budget for NASA, helping to maintain our leadership in space exploration and the broader fields of research and technology. 

“As Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, I would like to see a clear vision for NASA and our future in space,” Sen. Hutchison said.  “My authorization legislation the president signed into law last month will help ensure we not only remain the world leader in space exploration but in the scientific research that can be achieved under microgravity conditions.”

Specific provisions of the PACE Act include:

  • Increases the NASA basic research budget 10 percent annually through 2013;
  • Increases the NSF Research and Related Activities budget 10 percent annually through 2013;
  • Doubles authorized funding levels for basic research in the physical sciences;
  • Amends the Department of Energy Science Education Enhancement Act to appoint a Director of Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education Programs;
  • Authorizes the Secretary of Education to award grants to college and university departments of mathematics, science and engineering that partner with teacher preparation programs.  Also provides funding for three-year master’s degree programs in math and science education for current teachers;
  • Authorizes the NSF to award scholarships of up to $20,000 per year (for up to four years) to students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering who pursue concurrent teacher certification;
  • Doubles the current research and development tax credit (20 percent to 40 percent) and expands the credit to allow 100 percent of the cost of all research conducted by consortium, small businesses, federal laboratories and universities;
  • Provides for a tax credit of up to $500,000 annually to employers who provide qualified education to maintain or improve employees’ knowledge in science or engineering.

Sen. Hutchison has led efforts in Texas to promote pioneering academics in the fields of science, medicine and engineering.  In 2000, Sen. Hutchison established The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) to facilitate greater collaboration among the state’s leading academics and grow the ranks of Texans in the prestigious National Academies.  TAMEST, which recently held its third annual meeting, consists of the state’s 11 Nobel Laureates and 246 members of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences dedicated to increasing national awareness of and funding for research and development at Texas colleges and universities.