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'Sense of Congress' in International E-Commerce<@VM>High-Tech Pilot Program Act Makes It Through<@VM>R&D Tax Credit Passes the Senate

Sens. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., and Reps. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., and Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., introduced a "sense of the Congress" resolution May 10, promoting the spread of international electronic commerce.

The resolution calls on the secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to make cross-border promotion of e-commerce a high priority. It also recommends working with trading partners to create a regime that encourages continued e-commerce growth. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the National Laboratories Partnership Improvement Act of 2001 (S. 517) May 16. It establishes a technology infrastructure pilot program and partnership ombudsman for the national labs.

The pilot program seeks to improve the laboratories' ability to support departmental missions by stimulating the development of technology clusters, and to leverage and benefit from commercial research, technology, products, processes and services.

The pilot program is funded at $10 million under the legislation, which also calls for a technology partnership ombudsman at the labs. This person would help resolve complaints from outside organizations regarding each laboratory's policies and actions with respect to technology partnerships. On a 62-38 vote, Senate lawmakers approved making permanent the research and development tax credit. The provision was included in the manager's amendment to the tax relief bill.

The high-tech industry lobbied strongly for the permanent tax credit, saying it is necessary to support long-term research and development projects.

"Innovation does not just happen. It takes vision, planning and investment," said Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America in Arlington, Va., a trade group representing the IT industry.

"What we've said before bears repeating: R&D doesn't operate by a stopwatch. It requires the certainty of a sustained, long-term commitment," said William Archey, president and chief executive of AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association), which also represents high-tech companies.

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