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Pelosi Calls For More Broadband, Federal R&D Funding

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday unveiled her party's formula for boosting U.S. innovation in technology and other scientific fields.

In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Pelosi pointed to U.S. weaknesses in education and federal funding that has left the door open to developing nations, such as China and India, which are graduating hundreds of thousands of engineers a year more than the U.S. graduates.

In addition, while these countries continue to boost spending on basic research, U.S. federal support has been flat or falling since its peak in 1987, Pelosi said. As a result, some Internet innovation is heading to countries like South Korea, which leads the world in broadband penetration. The U.S. is now 16th.

To reverse these trends, Pelosi offered several Democratic proposals. Among the remedies in the party's new “Innovation Agenda" was the addition of 100,000 new scientists, mathematicians and engineers to the U.S. workforce in the next four years by providing more scholarships, financial assistance, and private sector opportunities to college students.

In addition, the Democrats plan to push for a doubling of federal funding for basic research and development in the physical sciences, and "promote the public-private partnerships that will translate new ideas into marketable technologies," Pelosi said.

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