Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Update on Technology Issues from Congressman Adam Smith

Smith Votes to Keep America Competitive

Recently, Congressman Adam Smith voted for H.R. 2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (COMPETES), as part of the House Democrats’ Innovation Agenda. The bill passed by a vote of 367 to 57. Adam and his colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition were instrumental in crafting the Agenda in the 109th Congress.

“It is absolutely essential that the U.S. maintain its competitive edge in the world market. This bill will help us take the strong, needed steps to get our children the education they need to be prepared for the modern economy,” Adam said.

The bill authorizes funding for programs to create more qualified teachers in science and math fields and to support scientific research and innovation through the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The legislation authorizes $22 billion over fiscal years 2008 – 2010 for research, education and other programs at the NSF; $2.65 billion for the research labs, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and other activities at the NIST, and $17 billion, over fiscal years 2008 to 2010, for programs at the DOE, including $150 million for K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs.

To read more specifics about the bill please link here:

The bill was signed into law by the President on August 9th, 2007

Smith Votes to Support Technology Efforts, Including Local Projects

The House version of the fiscal year 2008 Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3093) passed by a vote of 281 to 142, with Adam’s support.
A key investment in H.R. 3093 includes:

$831.2 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology Research to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness. These funds will support technology development, help smaller U.S. manufacturers compete in international markets, and help pay for the construction of research facilities.
Local technology projects funded include:

$1.1 million for an upgraded shared Automated Finger Imaging System (AFIS) for Pierce County, WA Sheriff’s Office and the City of Tacoma.

$250,000 for the Rainier Communications Commission for the acquisition of wireless routers to enable the pilot testing of a regional backup communications network for public safety and emergency response purposes, facilitating more effective emergency communications across Pierce County.

House Passes Bills to Promote Renewable Energy, Fight Global Warming

Adam also voted for an energy package that will make our nation more secure, create new American jobs, reduce energy costs to consumers, and fight global warming.

“We face serious security and environmental challenges that are tied to our dependence on oil and on foreign oil in particular. These bills will help protect the environment, promote alternative energy sources grown right here in the United States, and help end our dependence on foreign oil supplies,” Adam said.

H.R. 3221, the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, passed by a vote of 241-172. H.R. 2776, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007, passed by a vote of 221 to 189. Taken together, the bills approved by the House will:

* Help reduce our dependence on foreign oil;
* Make the largest investment in biofuels in history; Repeal $23 billion in tax subsidies and royalty relief provisions for big oil companies;
* Close loopholes that offer incentives for business to purchase gas-guzzling vehicles;
* Support cutting edge-research and the development of new energy technologies;
* Reduce emissions by as much as 10.4 billion tons through 2030 -- more than the annual emissions of all of the cars on the road in America today; and
* Call on the U.S. to re-engage and lead the global effort on a binding global warming agreement.

Smith Sends Letter to NSA Urging Streamlined Defense Trade Licensing

Adam and a bipartisan group of his colleagues recently sent a letter to Dr. Stephen J. Hadley, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, supporting industry recommendations to Streamline Defense Trade Licensing – changes which are critical if the U.S. is to maintain its technological leadership role.

The letter urged particular attention be paid to the industry recommendation on streamlining the licensing process related to technology sharing with our allies and partners in the context of U.S. defense cooperative programs and operations.

The number of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) license applications has risen dramatically over the last several years to approximately 70,000. This enormous caseload resulted in a backlog of some 10,000 applications last year and is a problem that cannot be addressed only with increases in personnel or agency resources.

Adam believes significant changes to the way that the State Department manages its caseload are needed - and long overdue – to reduce the number of authorizations required for defense cooperative programs involving U.S. allies and partners and expedites their approval under a programmatic framework in a manner that does not sacrifice national security.

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