The AAA has such amazing timing -- When a historic bill funding more science and science education gets passed, what is the AAA doing? Busy removing all reference to science from its mission statement. Blargh.
Dreams of a U.S. renaissance in basic research were kept alive today when the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act, a key funding bill for the physical sciences. The milestone came as a huge relief to supporters of the bill, which only last week seemed likely to die with the current Congress at the end of this year. But after a dramatic rally of support in the US Senate on Friday, the bill found itself back in the House, where it was briskly shepherded through to a final vote this afternoon. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
COMPETES is a reauthorization of a three-year 2007 act that followed recommendations in Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a 2005 report from the U.S. National Academies. The report supported increased funding for science education and placed certain science-funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, on a path to double their funding over ten years, relative to a 2007 baseline.
The bill's passage is a major victory for Congressman Bart Gordon (Democrat, Tennessee), who spearheaded the legislation in 2007 and again this year. Gordon is retiring from the House after three years as chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and says that he sees COMPETES as part of his legacy. "There is nothing I'm more proud of than the America COMPETES bill," Gordon told the House during the floor debate. "I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing in what is likely my final act on the House floor in 26 years of service than sending this bill to the president's desk."