President George W. Bush signed ‘the America Competes Act’ this morning at a White House ceremony, to authorize funding for research, education and teacher-training programs in the fields of science and technology over the next few years.
The law also creates a new Advanced Research Projects Administration for Energy (ARPA-E) with three principal goals: reduce foreign energy imports, reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions, and improve energy efficiency.
Congress passed the bill last week calling for multi-billion-dollar increases in federal support to sponsor science, math and technology and help the United States stay competitive in the respective domains.
Owing to its hefty price, some Republican critics voted against the bill and the president, said he shares those concerns albeit signed the bill.
“The President will request funding in his 2009 budget for those authorizations that support the focused priorities of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), but will not propose excessive or duplicative funding based on authorizations in the bill,” said The White House post signing of the bill.
The bill authorizes doubling the budgets for National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of Commerce National Institutes of Standards and Technology laboratories. Also, it increases NSF scholarships and math and science partnerships.
“I will continue to press Congress to approve the remaining measures of the American Competitiveness Initiative,” Bush said. “These measures include the Adjunct Teacher Corps program to encourage math and science professionals to take time out of their lives and teach in our schools and to inspire the youth to become more interested in math and science.”
The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (COMPETES), is considered a landmark measure.
The bill is aimed at boosting investment in key areas where the U.S. is behind other countries. Funds have only been approved but the appropriations will only begin after Congress returns from their August recess.