Bipartisan Competitiveness Legislation
SENATOR JOHN ENSIGN, who has been instrumental in crafting the America COMPETES Act, supported its final passage last night [August 2, 2007]. The bill, which will be sent to the President with bipartisan support, increases federal investment in basic research; fosters science, technology, engineering and math talent; and develops an innovation infrastructure to encourage growth.
"This investment in our nation's future will help secure America's position as a leader in innovation and technology," said Ensign, who played a leading role in drafting the America COMPETES Act as Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Technology, Innovation and Competitiveness last Congress. "With support from both sides of the aisle, the bill will encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics."
The bill is designed to increase the United States' competitiveness in the global economy by encouraging long-term economic growth and high-skilled job creation. The bill strengthens the ability of existing programs to respond to current and future challenges in the ever-changing marketplace.
"We are in a global market, and it is imperative that we keep up with our competitors such as China and India," said Ensign. "We cannot expect future generations to maintain our edge in technology and innovation if we do not provide them with the foundation to succeed, and this legislation lays that foundation."
The bill puts the National Science Foundation on a path to doubling its research programs. The legislation was stripped of excess spending and duplicative federal efforts before final passage. Last year Senator Ensign was tapped by the Senate Majority Leader to coordinate the efforts of several Senate committeesCommerce; Energy; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensionsin order to craft the America COMPETES Act.
SENATOR JOHN ENSIGN took a stand against earmarks today [August 2, 2007] at a press conference where he called for more transparency and more accountability when it comes to the earmarking process.
"Let's bring the process out of closed meetings and the back rooms of Congress and onto the floor of the United States Senate," said Ensign. "Earmarks amount to millions and millions of unaccountable federal dollars often passed into law without a hearing or debate."
Joined today by Senators John McCain (AZ), Jim DeMint (SC), Tom Coburn (OK), Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Cornyn (TX), Ensign discussed the ethics bill in Congress and how it does not go far enough.
The loopholes in this bill will result in the same earmarking process in Congress, which was at the source of several recent scandals. The bill will continue to allow secret earmarks, last minute additions and Senators to waive disclosure requirements. Instead of the Senate Parliamentarian, the bill allows a select few in Democrat leadership to determine which earmarks are subject to disclosure rules and which are not.
"The American people have demanded earmark reform for long enough," said Ensign. "Without truly changing the way earmarks are put into bills, we are not addressing the root of the problem. The American taxpayers want a process that is honest and transparent, and this bill does not go far enough when it comes to earmarks and pork barrel spending."
Trend to Protect Children
SENATOR JOHN ENSIGN commended the Hallmark Channel's recent move to keep smoking out of its original movies. Over the past few years, Ensign, a member of the Commerce Committee, has met with directors in Hollywood and top executives at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to discuss how the habits of actors and actresses on screen impact our children.
"On top of the recent decisions by the MPAA and Disney, I'm pleased that the Hallmark Channel has decided to eliminate smoking from its original films and that top executives across the entertainment industry are moving in this direction without action by Congress," said Ensign. "In only a few months, this is the third voluntary announcement by the entertainment industry that will protect our children from this deadly habit."
The MPAA announced in May that excessive or glamorized smoking in a film could push the rating from "PG-13" to "R." Last week Disney received praise from Ensign for the decision to ban smoking from its movies, a move that could keep our children from ever starting this dangerous habit.
"Our impressionable young children often look up to the characters they see on television and often they emulate their habitsparticularly smoking," said Ensign. "As a father of three, I'm encouraged that movie and television producers are taking these initiatives, and as a Senator, I commend the MPAA, Disney and the Hallmark Channel for their voluntary actions."
Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School and Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that adolescents with the highest exposure to smoking in movies were 2.6 times more likely to begin smoking than those with the lowest exposure. This study, which was published in the journal, Pediatrics, also found that 38 percent of adolescent smokers started because they saw smoking in movies.