Bush signed the America Competes Act on Thursday, which will invest $33.6 billion over the next few years in research, education and teacher-training programs in key science and technology areas where the U.S. is lagging behind other countries.
The move promptly drew an avalanche of accolades from high-tech companies, who cheered the action as a way of helping the United States stay competitive in science, technology and engineering. But it may not be time to pop the corks yet.
After all, it's still up to the respective congressional appropriations committees to go through the formal process of doling out funding, which the president must ultimately approve. Some Republican critics have already voted against the bill on account of its hefty price tag, and even as he signed the bill, the president indicated he shares those concerns.
"The bill creates over 30 new programs that are mostly duplicative or counterproductive--including a new Department of Energy agency to fund late-stage technology development more appropriately left to the private sector--and also provides excessive authorization for existing programs," the White House said in a statement after the bill signing Thursday. "Accordingly, the President will request funding in his 2009 budget for those authorizations that support the focused priorities of the ACI (American Competitiveness Initiative), but will not propose excessive or duplicative funding based on authorizations in the bill."