Congressional bills introduced to increase US research funding and competitiveness

APS-Physics President endorses PACE bills

John Hopfield, President of the American Physical Society, expressed strong support for bipartisan legislation submitted by Senators Domenici, Bingaman, Alexander and Mikulski today that authorizes the federal government to enhance America's competitive position in the global economy. Three bills, under the umbrella of "Protecting America's Competitive Edge," would substantially increase federal investments in research and education in the physical sciences, provide larger tax incentives for industry to invest in research and development and establish a new class of student visas for doctoral candidates studying the fields of math, engineering, technology and science.

Hopfield, the Howard A. Prior Professor in the Life Sciences at Princeton University, noted that apart from biomedicine supported by the National Institutes of Health basic research activities in the rest of American science had declined during the last twenty years.

"The R&D benchmarks report, released a year ago by the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, got the attention of policy makers," Hopfield said. "And the Gathering Storm Report, which the National Academies published in October at the request of Senators Alexander and Bingaman, truly set the stage for the PACE legislation."

Hopfield cautioned that the PACE bill merely authorizes the federal government to take action. "What we must do now," he said, "is to put teeth into the legislation, by appropriating funds and enacting laws that actually carry out the mandates called for."

According to Hopfield, Norman Augustine [retired CEO of Lockheed-Martin] and Craig Barrett [Chairman of the Board of Intel] deserve a lot of credit for getting the issue in front of Congress and the White House. He also noted that the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Electronics Association and the Council on Competitiveness have played very influential roles.

"On this issue," said Hopfield, "we must set political partisanship aside and work together to get the job done. Our future depends on it."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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