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Finishing America COMPETES Bill Will Take 'Miracle,' House Aide Says

Those holding out hope that Congress will give final approval this year to a bill to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act may want to start tossing not just pennies but Susan B. Anthony dollar coins into the nearest wishing well.

The measure, which includes a variety of provisions related to STEM education, was approved by the House this spring. But a companion Senate bill, while passed out of committee, never reached the Senate floor before Congress adjourned until after the November elections.

"I think we'll consider it a bit of a miracle if we get this bill enacted," said Dahlia Sokolov, an aide to Democrats on the House Science and Technology Committee, at a conference this morning.

She added: "We did pass the COMPETES reauthorization in the House at the end of May, and we have a lot of STEM education language in there. It didn't turn out to be as easy as we expected to pass even in the House. This is a tough year, certainly with the budget issues that we're dealing with and the very polarized environment in which we're operating."

For more on the difficulties Sokolov was referring to in the House, see this blog post. And for more on what the reauthorization bill would mean for education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, check out this post.

Certainly, it will be tough for lawmakers to get much, if anything, done during the lame-duck session, especially as Republicans are widely expected to make big gains during the midterm elections and possibly seize control of both the House and Senate.

Sokolov, along with an aide to the House Education and Labor Committee, were on hand this morning to discuss legislative matters related to STEM education at a conference in downtown Washington hosted by the Triangle Coalition for Science & Technology Education. The event will continue this afternoon and into tomorrow morning.

By the way, this is not the only STEM education conference going on today in the nation's capital. The nonprofit group Project Lead the Way is hosting its first annual National Innovation Summit, which also wraps up tomorrow.

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