WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) today hailed the Senate’s passage of the conference agreement for the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 2272), legislation she cosponsored that is designed to make the United States more globally competitive. Following House action earlier in the day, the Senate passed the measure yesterday, which would increase research investment and strengthen educational opportunities in science technology, engineering and mathematics, by unanimous consent. The bill is en route to President Bush for his signature.

“I am so pleased that Congress has completed action on the COMPETES Act, which is vital to ensuring America remains competitive worldwide by improving education and workplace development,” said Senator Snowe. “I urge President Bush to sign this legislation into law as soon as possible.”

Senator Snowe was particularly pleased that the conference agreement retained language she offered during the Senate’s consideration of the bill that would improve the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program and include the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) on the President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness.

“Manufacturing is one of our country’s greatest economic strengths, and MEP is an invaluable program that helps manufacturers improve productivity and compete in the global marketplace,” said Senator Snowe. “Language in the conference report that I have long supported will enable program centers to acquire non-Federal matching funds. This allows for a level playing field for small manufacturers operating worldwide while creating high-paying jobs here at home.”