Cantwell: STEM Education Crucial to 21st Century Workforce

Votes to advance COMPETES Act, supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) worked to advance legislation to continue building science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) research and education programs.  During a Commerce Committee markup to reauthorize the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act she voted to move the legislation forward. 
“It is crucial that we continue developing a 21st century workforce to keep America competitive in the global economy,” said Senator Cantwell. “We must ensure our children are receiving a world-class education in science, math, engineering and technology, and that our scientists have the funding for innovative research.  Reauthorizing the COMPETES Act is critical to achieving these goals.”
The original America COMPETES Act, passed into law in 2007, provided a key step in advancing STEM.  Cantwell was an original co-sponsor of the legislation.  The law authorized $33.6 billion for science, technology, engineering and math research, and education programs in five federal agencies: the Office of Science and Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation. 
Certain provisions of the COMPETES Act expire this year, necessitating this reauthorization.  The legislation marked up today includes STEM education programs, innovation and competitiveness grant programs, as well as research projects funded under the five agencies. The legislation will provide continued federal support to ongoing and newly established scientific research, while also providing STEM educational activities. 
The legislation next goes to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Energy and Natural Resources Committees.  The House of Representatives passed a version of the COMPETES reauthorization in May.