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Science, tech funding boosts also get Senate nod

The action sends to the president's desk a multibillion-dollar effort to create new federal research, education and teacher training programs designed to improve American "competitiveness."

A congressional proposal to throw some $33 billion behind new federal research, education and teacher training programs over the next two years is now headed to the president's desk.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday night approved by voice vote an agreement with the House of Representatives on the so-called America Competes Act (short for the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act), which the tech industry has hailed as critical to creating the next generation of U.S. innovators. The vote hadn't originally been expected until at least Friday.

Earlier on Thursday evening, the House approved the bill by a 367-to-57 margin--but only after a few Republicans aired gripes about the price tag associated with the measure and questioned how Congress would ultimately pay for it.

It's unclear how the president will react to the proposal, though he has in the past called for boosting research spending in an effort to bolster American "competitiveness." And as with all such bills, authorizing billions of dollars for new programs doesn't necessarily mean congressional appropriations committees will ultimately dole out the benchmark amounts.

Check out our coverage of the House vote for more details about what's in the 470-page package.