Seven senators spoke at length when S. 3936, the National Competitiveness
Investment Act, was introduced last month. The following are excerpts
from the more than 10,000 words of remarks on the Senate floor about
competitiveness, the objectives of the legislation, and the remarkable
bipartisan cooperation that made this bill possible:
Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI).
"The lynchpin of continued innovation that will lead to economic
competitiveness will be educating and inspiring young people to be educated
and employed in science and technology-related disciplines. This
bill uses educational programs to inspire students from kindergarten
through graduate school to pursue math and science. It also ensures
that the Nation's enterprise research is well-funded and focused on
the needs of the Nation."
"The United States can and must remain strong and competitive
in the face of emerging challenges from the rest of the world. This
bill is not the final answer, but it is a starting point. We will begin
by strengthening science research and improving education to generate
the ideas that U.S. companies can transform into the next breakthrough
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA):
"Federal investment in research and development has been shrinking
as a share of the economy, and government research programs at the National
Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Department
of Energy all have less funding this year than they did three years
"At the same time, fast-growing countries like China, Ireland
and South Korea are realizing the potential for economic growth that
comes with investing in innovation. For example, China's total research
and development investments rose from $12.4 billion in 1991 to $84.6
billion in 2003, an average increase of 17 percent a year. Over the
same period, the increase in U.S. investment averaged only 4 to 5 percent
"Study after study tells us that we need major new investments
in education and research and development to stay ahead. We cannot just
tinker at the margins and expect to master our own destiny in the global
economy. We have a responsibility to make the investments that are necessary
to our progress a responsibility to our families, to our economy,
to our Nation, and to our national security."
"Americans know how to rise to challenges and come out ahead.
We've done it before and we can do it again. When we were called into
action in 1957 with the Soviet Sputnik launch, we rose to the challenge
by passing the National Defense Education Act and inspiring the nation
to ensure that the first footprint on the moon was by an American. We
doubled the federal investment in education.
"We need the same bold commitment to help the current generation
meet and master the global challenges of today and tomorrow. The National
Competitiveness Investment Act will start to put America back on track.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve upon the bill
as it moves forward and to expand on these efforts in the months to
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX):
"As chair of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Commerce
Committee, I am especially pleased that this legislation ensures that
both NASA and NSF are able to expand their strong traditional roles
in fostering technological and scientific excellence. The language we
have crafted increases essential NASA funding to support basic research
and foster new innovation by calling for full use of existing budget
authority that we provided within the 2005 NASA Authorization Act. Under
the terms of this legislation, the President could request an additional
$1.4 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 2008 for application toward these
activities. By directing NASA's full participation in interagency efforts
for competitiveness and innovation under the more widely known
term of the American Competitiveness Initiative this legislation
points the way for the administration to now make use of that additional
authority in supporting projects that can help meet these important
competitiveness and innovation goals."
Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM):
"As chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Committee,
I was pleased I was able to slightly exceed the President's request
for a 14-percent increase in the Office of Science in fiscal year 2007,
putting it on a track to double in a decade, which is the goal and objective
of the Norm Augustine report. The NCIA, which it will be called, also
includes provisions that will build on the educational program sponsored
by the Department of Energy, by engaging the facilities and scientific
workforce of the national laboratories, and these educational programs
will help ensure that we are preparing today's young people for the
demands of tomorrow's high-tech workplace. The NCIA is a good partner
to the President's initiative. I applaud the President for his bold
vision which he expressed to us in his State of the Union Address, and
which we have built upon in the legislation we are talking about today."
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM):
"We are all aware here in the Senate that we operate on two different
tracks: we operate on the track of authorizing legislation and the track
of appropriating legislation. The legislation we are talking about today
and introducing today is authorizing legislation, so it is only one
of the steps needed in order to get action accomplished here in the
Congress. But it is an important step, and it is particularly important
when you are setting a long-term goal.
"That is what this legislation attempts to do: It tries to look
long term. It tries to say that we need to ramp up our investment in
these critical areas of concern so that five years from now, ten years
from now, we will see a change in these trend lines which have so concerned
the National Academy of Sciences as well as many of us here in the Congress.
"This bill authorizes $73 billion to be spent over five years
to maintain our Nation's competitive edge. Of that, about $20 billion
is considered new funding; that is, it is funding above the 2006 level
at which we are today. These are only authorizations. It is not an appropriation.
It is going to be our job, and it is not an easy job, but it is going
to be the job of the Congress not only to appropriate these new moneys
we are here authorizing but also to make sure those moneys are not appropriated
at the expense of other important programs in the Department of Education
or in the National Science Foundation or in the Department of Energy.
I think we are all aware that this has to be new money in a genuine
sense of that term."
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN):
"It is worth pausing today to notice that this is legislation
which will be introduced tonight by the majority leader of the Senate,
Senator Frist, and by the Democratic leader of the Senate, Senator Reid.
There are not very many things this year in this Congress that have
been introduced by our distinguished two leaders. They do that for a
reason. They usually don't even cosponsor legislation. But they have
decided that in this case, this issue is so important that they wanted
to send a signal to our country, to the rest of us in the Senate, to
the Members of the House of Representatives, to all of us.
"The Presiding Officer and I deeply believe it is urgently important
for our country to do what it takes to keep our edge in science and
technology so we can keep our share of good-paying jobs in the United
States of America and not see them go overseas to China and India and
other places. This is the way to do that, and this is an important beginning.
It would not have happened but for Senator Domenici and Senator Bingaman
and a variety of other Senators so many, it is hard to mention
them all. In fact, the reason I think the bill is having such success
as it moves through the Senate is that it has so many fathers and mothers,
it is not possible to tell who they are because this is a subject matter
which many Senators have been working on for a long time."
"In my experience as a Governor of a State, we had low taxes,
and that helped to create new jobs. But we also needed to make investments
in centers of excellence and good teaching and distinguished scientists
because we knew what most of the world now is learning: most of our
good new jobs come from brainpower, from our advantage in science and
technology. We are in a constant state of losing jobs every day as most
healthy economies are. So the key to our success is how many good new
jobs we can create, and the key to that is our brainpower advantage.
"We are not the only ones in the world who understand this. We
have a Democratic leader who understands it. We have a Republican leader
who understands it. We have a President of the United States, President
Bush, who understands it and who made it a central part of his State
of the Union Address. But let me mention just one other President who
" Just about a month ago, a group of Senators, led by Senator
Stevens and Senator Inouye, traveled to China. We met with the President
of China, President Hu Jintao. We also met with the Chairman of the
National People's Congress, the No. 2 person in China, Mr. Wu. Just
two months earlier, in July, President Hu went to the Chinese Academy
of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering to outline a new
15-year plan to make China the technology leader in the world. In his
speech, the President of China said China must: Promote a huge
leap forward of science and technology; we shall put strengthening independent
innovation capability at the core of economic structure adjustment.'
" His plan included reforming China's universities and massively
investing in new research. The President of China concluded his speech
this way: We all bear the time-honored mission to provide strong
scientific support for the construction of a well-off society by improving
our independent innovation capability and building an innovative country.
I hope that our scientists and technicians will strive hard to make
brilliant achievements and constantly contribute to our country and
"Some who watch Congress might think that is a little bit naive
because we disagree about a lot and there are a lot of politics here.
But the National Academies came back with 20 recommendations. The Council
on Competitiveness already had a very good report. The President made
his own proposal, which was very substantial. Lo and behold, we have
worked together for 18 months and came up with an even better piece
of legislation than any of us introduced to begin with. And we have
virtually a unanimous agreement about it, among three of the largest
and most important committees here, and the majority leader and the
Democratic leader are sponsoring the bill themselves.
"We should pass this legislation this year. We should not go home
without doing it. We can't do it this week. But by introducing the legislation
today, Senator Frist and Senator Reid give our country a chance, while
we all are at home in the next four weeks, to tell us what they think
"There are a lot of people running for the Senate. I hope in every
single Senate race this year someone asks the question, Are you in favor
of the Frist-Reid competitiveness legislation, and do you believe it
ought to pass the Senate before the end of the year? I hope that question
is asked. I believe the answer will be yes."
Senator John Ensign (R-NV):
"We have learned some startling statistics. First of all, we find
out that America will graduate somewhere around 60,000 to 70,000 engineers
this year. China and India together will graduate a much larger number
of engineers in that same time period.
"In the 21st century, we need to encourage more people to go into
the technology fields, into science, math, and engineering. We need
more students to pursue advanced degrees in these fields. We need to
inspire more of our young people to go into these fields.
"One interesting fact that came out is that if our kids become
disinterested in science and math in elementary school, the chances
of them ever becoming interested in these fields later on in life are
virtually nil. So we have to focus on inspiring our young kids to go
into science, technology, engineering, and math from a very young age."
"As a matter of fact, Senators Alexander, Bingaman, and Domenici
introduced what they called their PACE bills that addressed a lot of
the problems that were identified in the National Academies, "Rising
Above the Gathering Storm"' report. During the past several weeks
we have undertaken a bipartisan effort to combine the work products
of the Senate Commerce Committee, the Senate Energy Committee, and the
Senate HELP Committee. This effort has included the involvement of the
chairmen and ranking members, both Republicans and Democrats, from all
of these committees, as well as several other Members who have been
involved. This has been under the direction of the two leaders' offices.
This is the most bipartisan effort on any bill probably in the last
several years in the Senate.
"This was no easy task, especially when we need to be ever vigilant
about growing deficits. We were forced to take a hard look at how to
best address pressing needs related to science, technology, engineering,
and math education, basic research and barriers that U.S. companies
are facing as they compete in this global economy.
"I believe the legislation before us today is a good compromise,
and it reflects a good mix of spending on key priorities like basic
research and education, while being sensitive to avoiding the duplication
among various federal agencies. This legislation will ensure these programs
are being evaluated and are being responsive to key needs, while at
the same time being fiscally responsible. "
"I am a fiscal conservative. I am one of the most fiscally conservative
Members of the Senate. But every dollar we spend on basic research is
a dollar that will come back to us in spades in terms of stimulating
economic activity and helping to keep the United States at the forefront
of global innovation. By the way, those who are concerned about tax
revenues coming in, the better our economy does, the more tax revenues
come into the Federal Government."
"As Senator Alexander said a few moments ago, we encourage all
of our colleagues to join us in cosponsoring this important piece of
legislation. Now is the time to act. We have a rare opportunity to put
aside our party labels and to put our country first. In many other areas,
we should be not Republican, not Democrat, not Independent we
should be Americans. This is such a bill. This piece of legislation
is critical for the future competitiveness of our country. I urge all
of our colleagues to join us in this bipartisan effort "