Education, Innovation, and Manufacturing Outlook in the Lame-Duck Session

Before the Republicans prepare to take the gavel in the House, and as Democrats emerge with a smaller majority in the Senate in the 112th Congress, lawmakers will return to a lame-duck session filled with a number of unfinished legislative matters.  While most of the attention has been devoted to the status of the Bush-tax cuts, which are set to expire, there remain a number of other pieces of legislation that could potentially come up before the end of the year.

One is the Department of Education’s (DoE) 2011 spending bill.  While both chambers of Congress have agreed on specific appropriations within the bill, no compromise has been made as of yet.  One specific provision, the Investing in Innovation Grants, which provide funding to schools to create innovative programs and techniques for educational development, was slated for $400 million in the House but only $250 million in the Senate version.

Pivotal to the DoE is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has thus far stalled due to differences in how to implement standardized testing and how to deal with low performing schools. Also included in the reauthorization is a renewed focus on STEM based education backed by $300 million in appropriations in an attempt to re-take the lead in science and math.

Another item is President Obama’s infrastructure proposal, which is designed to upgrade the deteriorating highway, railroad, and airport systems across the country.  When making the case for this proposal, Obama highlighted the link between infrastructure and maintaining America’s innovative and competitive edge.

In addition to infrastructure and education the lame duck also may take up clean energy fuelimmigration reform, and patent reform.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: CNN, Council on Foreign Relations, Department of Education, Education Week, Huffington Post,, Seeking Alpha

Photo credit: Washington DC – Capitol Hill: United States Capitol courtesy of flicker user wallyg


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