Competitiveness and Technology

Over a relatively short period of time, the Internet has revolutionized personal communications, business, and commerce. Much of the success of the Internet is owed to the innovations of the private sector. It is the duty of Congress to ensure that the government supports rather than burdens further technological developments. That is why I am a strong advocate of preserving the open and tax-free nature of the Internet. I have voted to extend the ban on the state taxation of Internet access and electronic commerce, and I have supported legislation to make this tax prohibition permanent.

As more individuals choose to reduce their phone bills by communicating through Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), emergency services need to adapt to this new medium. I voted to require IP-enabled voice service vendors to provide emergency 911 service to all their subscribers. This legislation treats VoIP providers much like mobile phone carriers and allows them to take advantage of the same savings to help meet this requirement. I have also supported legislation to provide additional funding to more effectively police the Internet for sexual predators as well as to criminalize the creators and propagators of malicious spyware programs.

The private sector has done a remarkable job of providing new high-tech products and services that have greatly enhanced our lives. Congress must support this development while maintaining an open and viable marketplace for new technologies. I have strongly supported the federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) because I believe the program increases the competitiveness of American industries. The Manufacturers Resource Center, located in Northampton County and one of only six MEP Centers in the entire state of Pennsylvania, works with local employers to help them innovate, modernize and ultimately grow. Faced with increasingly aggressive international competitors, programs like MEP will help the United States maintain its manufacturing advantage.

As a member of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, I have also become intrinsically involved in Congressional efforts to revitalize America’s industrialized cities. Federal policy advanced by the Coalition is geared towards helping traditional manufacturing communities take advantage of their existing, but sometimes overlooked, strengths. One such strength that truly applies to our area is the prevalence of prestigious colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education can often lead the revival of industrial communities by sharing resources with local businesses through imaginative partnerships and initiatives. These collaborations must be encouraged and supported by federal policymakers because they help local manufacturers excel and prepare American students for future roles in our technology industry.

As the United States strives to maintain its competitive edge, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) plays an integral role in developing a creative and flexible workforce with the necessary skills to adapt to demands of our rapidly changing global economy. Furthermore, our federal investment in STEM education has become an issue of homeland security as other nations continue to advance areas like computer engineering and medicine. The United States must have the resources to protect our populace from the consequences of a foreign cyberattack or the infiltration of a pandemic flu.

Since coming to Congress in 2005, I have been a member of the Congressional STEM Education Caucus, an organization focused on promoting STEM in elementary, secondary and higher education, as well as in the workforce. During the 110th Congress, I supported the America COMPETES Act, an initiative to increase our nation’s investment in STEM education. The American COMPETES Act addresses the inadequate number of American students proficient in these content areas, as well as the lacking number of students interested in STEM related careers compared to other nations. More specifically, the Act focuses on recruiting, training and retaining teachers in high need school districts and providing scholarships to students pursuing STEM degrees at the university level. Through these initiatives, the United States will be a world leader in STEM academics, research and development, and industry related careers.