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June 3, 2010 - ASCE Letter - swift action on the America COMPETES Act

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June 3, 2010

The Honorable Jay Rockefeller                   The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
Chairman                                                 Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science,           Committee on Commerce, Science, 
    and Transportation                                     and Transportation
United States Senate                                 United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                              Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison:

I am writing on behalf of the more than 144,000 members of the American Society of
Civil Engineers (ASCE) seeking your support for the swift reauthorization of the America
COMPETES Act. As you know, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5116, the
America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, on Friday, May 28. The bill provides
for the authorization of $85.6 billion in new investments in the National Science
Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of
Commerce's National Institute of Standards & Technology over a five-year period.

The bill has overwhelming support in the science and engineering, and the business
community with over 750 organizations endorsing the House legislation. 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 loose 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 Senate Commerce Committee and the entire Senate 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,

Blaine D. Leonard, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
President