January 08, 2020

Cortez Masto: STEM Progress for Women and Minorities Languishing in McConnell’s Legislative Graveyard

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow the Senate to move forward on important legislation to increase access to STEM careers for women and other underrepresented groups.

“Mitch McConnell says he wants the Senate to get back to work for the American people, but he has continued to block this chamber from acting on multiple pieces of legislation to improve life for all Americans, including a bipartisan bill that the House has already passed to expand access to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM careers are crucial to the economy in Nevada and across the nation. When we increase the representation of all Americans in these fields, we bring good-paying jobs and transformative innovation to our communities. I’m committed to doing the work that Nevadans elected me to do, and that means legislating in the United States Senate.”

Throughout the month of January, Senator Cortez Masto will highlight critical bipartisan legislation languishing in Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard. Senator Cortez Masto is urging the Republican Leader to get back to work for the American people and end his obstruction of legislation that would help families across the nation.

BACKGROUND:

Senate Majority Leader McConnell has refused to let the Senate take action on hundreds of pieces of legislation to improve Americans’ lives, including the STEM Opportunities Act of 2019. The STEM Opportunities Act boosts the inclusion of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics by:

  • Requiring more comprehensive demographic data collection on the recipients of federal research awards and on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty at U.S. universities;
  • Developing consistent federal policies, such as no-cost award extensions, for recipients of federal research awards who have caregiving responsibilities;
  • Creating consistent federal guidance to grant reviewers and program officers on best practices to minimize the effects of implicit bias in the review of federal research grants;
  • Requiring the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop guidance for universities and federal laboratories to aid them in identifying any cultural and institutional barriers limiting the recruitment, retention, and achievement of women, minorities, rural students, and other underrepresented groups in academic and government STEM research careers and in developing and implementing current best practices for reducing such barriers;
  • Authorizing the National Science Foundation to award grants to universities to implement or expand research-based practices targeted specifically at increasing the recruitment and retention of minority students and faculty.

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