Reauthorization of America COMPETES Act:
This spring the Committee has been working toward the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. This important bill, which supports a broad range of basic research and science and math education initiatives, became law in 2007.While Republicans had concerns with some provisions, many in the Republican caucus supported the bill upon final passage.
However, Republicans have been, and will continue to be, mindful of the responsible use of taxpayer dollars. Given the current economic environment, and excessive government spending, Congress must remain diligent when attempting to balance these priorities.
As the Committee moved forward with the reauthorization, key concerns lied in this bill’s dramatic increases in spending levels, the creation of new and duplicative programs, and a shift in focus away from basic research and toward technology commercialization activities. These types of spending and programmatic expansions continue to be a concern for many Republican members, as the bill moved forward.
On May 28, 2010, by a vote of 262 to 150, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5116, a bill reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act, after language that was overwhelmingly approved on the House floor two weeks prior was stripped from the underlying bill with a rarely-used procedural tactic.
On December 21, 2010, in a last-minute effort to pass the bill before Congress adjourned, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 228 to 130, approved a Senate substitute amendment to H.R. 5116, which makes numerous substantive changes to the House version of the bill. President Obama signed H.R. 5116 into law on January 4, 2011.
March 25, 2010: The Energy and Environment Subcommittee held the first markup of the energy title for COMPETES. Republicans offered seven amendments in an attempt to address increased costs and a shift in priorities.
April 14, 2010: The Research and Science Education Subcommittee’s markup of America COMPETES was held. Republicans offered three amendments. A key amendment offered would reduce the authorization period from five years to three years, reducing the overall price of the bill by over $20 billion dollars, a savings of over 44%, also allowing better oversight over how taxpayers are being spent. All amendments were defeated by voice vote.
April 21, 2010: The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee held the final subcommittee markup of America COMPETES. Two Republican amendments were offered, again focusing on a shift from a five year authorization period to a three year period. This amendment failed by voice vote.
April 28, 2010: The Science and Technology Committee convened to pass H.R. 5116, a bill reauthorizing America COMPETES. Republicans offered 39 amendments at the markup. Several amendments offered would revert the bill back to a three-year authorization, the same authorization period as the original COMPETES Act of 2007. Further, Republicans attempted to strike new programs that are unnecessary or duplicative of current efforts and could divert funding away from basic research, and to refocus the legislation on basic research. All amendments attempting to restrain spending were defeated.
May 13, 2010: COMPETES was brought to the House floor under a structured Rule. Prior to final passage, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to recommit H.R. 5116. A Motion to Recommit (MTR), offered by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), passed the House by a vote of 292 to 126, resulting in the Democrats’ decision to pull the bill prior to final passage.
May 19, 2010: The House of Representatives defeated H.R. 5325, a new version of the bill, after language from the MTR that was overwhelmingly approved on the House floor the previous week was stripped from this version of the bill. The new bill incorporated two provisions of the MTR: reducing the bill to a three-year authorization and prohibiting funds from paying the salary of any federal employee disciplined for viewing or downloading pornographic material. All of the other provisions were stripped from H.R. 5325.
May 28, 2010: By a vote of 262 to 150, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5116, a bill reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. H.R. 5116 was brought back to the House floor, with the Majority employing a rarely used procedural tactic to gut the most substantive and cost-saving provisions from the Republican MTR, effectively dividing it into nine separate sections and requiring the House to vote on each. Democrats defeated all but two: the ‘porn provision,’, and the ‘military recruiters on campuses provision,’ which both passed by recorded vote. All of the other provisions were stripped from H.R. 5116, including the compromise language represented in H.R. 5325, which reduced the authorization period.
December 21, 2010: By a vote of 228 to 130, the House passed a Senate substitute amendment to H.R. 5116. The Senate approved the amendment the previous Friday, making numerous substantive changes to the House version of the bill.
January 4, 2011: President Obama signed H.R. 5116 into law.