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December 20, 2010 - Letter - support for H.R.5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010

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December 20, 2010

Dear Representative:

I am writing on behalf of the more than 140,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) seeking your support for reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. The Senate acted on December 17th to pass an amended version of H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. It is now up to the House to complete work on this vital legislation.

The Senate version is a prudent compromise in tough economic times, with a three-year authorization, 90% of which is a reauthorization of existing major research programs. The bill provides for the authorization of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards & Technology.

The bill has overwhelming support in the science, engineering, and business communities with over 750 organizations endorsing the House legislation back in May. In addition to ASCE, those endorsing the legislation include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Competitiveness, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Venture Capital Association, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and others, including nearly 100 universities and colleges.

ASCE was founded in 1852 and is the country’s oldest national civil engineering organization. It represents civil engineers in private practice, government, industry and academia who are dedicated to the advancement of the science and profession of civil engineering.

Technological innovation has been the engine driving the nation’s economic expansion. ASCE firmly believes that by maintaining strong and steadily increasing support for research and education, we will continue to enjoy the rewards of economic expansion. If we do not continue to invest in research and technology, we will lose our position in an ever more integrated and competitive world. Global competition increasingly requires the United States to make the necessary investments in science and engineering research and education.

If history is any guide, we know the benefits of such an investment. According to economic experts, science-driven technology is responsible for over 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last half century. Robust, sustained investment in research and development is required for stimulating growth in high-wage industries, for generating new technologies in critical areas of need, including energy, transportation and manufacturing, and for preparing the workforce of tomorrow.

Once again, we urge the House to move quickly to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. National investment in research and education programs produces the new knowledge and the trained scientists and engineers indispensable to our future economic vitality and national security. ASCE strongly believes that Congress must maintain and increase that support.

Sincerely,

Brian Pallasch
Managing Director
Government Relation and Infrastructure Initiatives