U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Chairman Coons, Africa Subcommittee will examine President’s Power Africa initiative

    Energy poverty is one of the most significant challenges facing Africa today. Seventy percent of Sub-Saharan Africans ­ – and 85 percent of those living rural areas – ­ are currently living without access to electricity.

    Pervasive energy poverty undermines economic growth and development goals in health, education, and institution-building across the continent. Businesses have repeatedly cited the lack of reliable energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa as a more significant impediment to doing business than corruption, access to capital, and other challenges. More than 90 million schoolchildren across the continent lack access to this basic educational resource and 30 percent of health facilities are without electricity. Toxic fumes from kerosene ­– the chemical used to light homes – lead to more than 3 million deaths per year, more than HIV/AIDs and malaria combined.

    The Power Africa initiative, launched by President Obama in June 2013, seeks to double the number of individuals with access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa by producing at least 10,000 megawatts of more efficient, cost effective, and sustainable electricity generation capacity on the continent.  By 2020, it aims to increase electricity access for at least 20 million new households and commercial entities, enhance the energy resource management capabilities of partner countries, and increase regional cross-border energy trade.

    To achieve these goals, the U.S. government and private sector have made approximately $20 billion in commitments to expanding energy access and generation across Sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years, especially in the six Power Africa focus countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

    Senator Coons, chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, will chair a hearing on Thursday to examine questions surrounding Power Africa’s scope, implementation and sustainability. The hearing will feature testimony from witnesses leading Power Africa’s implementation, including USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast, OPIC Executive Vice President Mimi Alemayehou, and Ex-Im Africa Director Rick Angiuoni. Additional witnesses include Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power; Del Renigar, Senior Council for Global Government Affairs Policy for General Electric; and Tom Hart, U.S. Executive Director of the ONE Campaign. Their testimony will help to inform the Foreign Relations Committee’s future consideration of legislation to provide congressional authorization for Power Africa.

    The hearing will be held Thursday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Room, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Click here to view a live webcast of the hearing.

    Senator Coons questioned Secretary of State John Kerry about funding for the Power Africa initiative at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations earlier this month. Click here to watch their exchange.

  • Senator Coons announces bill to boost manufacturing education at universities

    Senator Coons works with biochemistry students at UD on February 20, 2014

    Senator Coons joined leaders from the University of Delaware Thursday to announce new legislation designed to boost STEM education and help universities prepare students for careers in innovation and advanced manufacturing. The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014 would award competitive grants to 25 designated ‘manufacturing universities,’ to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers.

    “The entire lifecycle of innovation, skills, and creativity in manufacturing has to include universities,” Senator Coons said. “Universities have a central role to play in continuing the cycle of innovation that is essential if American manufacturing is to continue its current recovery. Over the last three years, our economy has regained 600,000 manufacturing jobs, but hundreds of thousands more remain unfilled because there aren’t enough appropriately skilled and trained process engineers, mechanical engineers, and chemical engineers to keep that innovation going.”

    Grants of $5 million per year, for a four-year period, will help universities revamp their engineering programs to emphasize manufacturing skills, incentivize partnerships with local manufacturers, increase internship and cooperative education opportunities for students, and help more recent graduates launch new manufacturing businesses.

    “We want more students graduating with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century manufacturing environment, and we want more of our universities orienting themselves toward this field where we can win, our communities can win, and our country can win.”

    Following the announcement Senator Coons visited with biochemistry students and faculty at UD’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab) to demonstrate a chemical reaction and discuss the importance of STEM education.

    Tags:
    Economy
    Education
    Innovation
    Jobs
    Manufacturing
    skills
    STEM
    Students
    University of Delaware
  • Investing in American workers

    The smartest investment Congress can make is in American workers — whether they currently have a job or not.

    Although we’ve come a long way since the depths of the Great Recession, there’s still more we can and must do to help our small businesses grow and create jobs. Americans continue to face a tough job market and too many of our neighbors have been out of work for a long time.

    At a minimum, we must do more to help unemployed Americans stay afloat as they look for work. That’s why this week, like I did several times last month, I voted to extend emergency unemployment insurance benefits for the 1.7 million Americans and 4,300 Delawareans who have been jobless for more than 26 weeks – and whose benefits expired at the end of December. They’re folks who were laid off through no fault of their own because of the Great Recession. They’ve worked for much of their lives and paid into the system, and they deserve our support as they work to get back on their feet.

    We need to stand with our job-seeking neighbors, and yesterday I spoke on the Senate floor on their behalf. Click here to take a look and to share your own opinion on helping out-of-work Delawareans.

    As I argued on the floor, unemployment insurance is a critical lifeline to Americans looking for work – keeping families from falling into poverty and providing needed support to our economy at the same time.

    Renewing emergency unemployment insurance, though, should only be the start of our work. If we want to grow our economy and our middle class, Washington needs to renew its focus on helping our manufacturers grow and create jobs.

    We need to make sure that at every level, we’re training Americans for the needs of the modern economy. Investing in American workers is how we’ll be able to rebuild our middle class and ensure that our nation can compete over the long-term. By modernizing our education system and building partnerships between our schools and our businesses, we can ensure that our workers have the skills employers need today and tomorrow.

    The best way to help our job-seeking neighbors is to grow our economy and create jobs. Click here to learn more about how I propose to do that and let me know what you think.

    I’m doing everything I can to help businesses create jobs in Delaware, but I can’t do it without you. We’re at our best when we remember that we’re all in this together – when we help lift each other up when one of us has fallen. Thank you for joining me in this critical fight.

  • Senator Coons welcomes Kent County jobseekers to first job fair of 2014

    Senator Coons attends the Delaware congressional delegation's first job fair of the year in Kent County on January 23, 2014.

    More than 1,000 jobseekers packed in to the Education Technology Building Conference Center at Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus for the first job fair of the year hosted by U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, and U.S. Representative John Carney. The Kent County job fair brought more than 45 private and public entities together to meet candidates in hopes of filling over 500 open positions.

    The Kent County job fair was organized with the help of Brandywine Counseling and Career Services, and service and government employment agencies were also on hand to facilitate job-search skills workshops, career counseling, and resume reviews. 

    “Today was our 17th job fair and once again it was a great opportunity to connect Delawareans looking for work with prospective employers,” said Senator Carper. “While we still have too many of our friends and neighbors who are struggling to find work, I am heartened that we’re making progress and I’m hopeful that 2014 will be a positive year for job creation and economic growth here in the First State.”

    “Thousands of Delawareans are still looking for work and these job fairs can make a real difference in our neighbors’ lives,” Senator Coons said. “Like the job fairs we hosted in the past, our goal for these fairs is to help Delawareans connect with real job opportunities, many of which are right here in their own backyard. Companies like Mountaire, Lowe’s, and Energizer were looking to fill hundreds of full-time positions.”

    “Putting Delawareans back to work is my top priority.  There are still many qualified workers struggling to provide for themselves and their families,” said Congressman Carney.  “Many people left today with good information and connections that could lead to their next career move. That’s our main goal, and we’ll continue providing these opportunities throughout the year.” 

    In 2013, the Delaware delegation hosted seven job fairs for more than 3,500 job seekers. Since 2011, the delegation has hosted 17 jobs fairs in Delaware, including four specifically for veterans.

  • Senator Coons surveys the future of charter schools in Wilmington

    Sen. Coons listens to Community Education Building president Riccardo Stoeckicht as they stand in what will be the CEB's 7,000 square foot library on January 17, 2014.

    Sen. Coons listens to Community Education Building President Riccardo Stoeckicht as they stand in what will be the building's 7,000 square foot library.

    Senator Coons peered into the future of Wilmington's charter schools as he joined Community Education Building (CEB) representatives Riccardo Stoeckicht and Robert Boyd for a behind-the-scenes look at the under-construction CEB in downtown Wilmington Friday. The 11-story building, donated by Bank of America to the Longwood Foundation, will house between 2,400-2,800 students when schools are operating at capacity.

    Also along for the tour was Sally Maldonado, head of school for Kuumba Academy, one of the first schools that will be housed at the CEB. Academia Antonia Alonso is also scheduled to begin classes there in the fall.

    “Students, especially young students, need a place to learn where they can feel inspired, safe and comfortable,” said Chris. “This building, once completed, will provide a place for more than 2,000 students to learn, grow and flourish as members of their community.”

    “This project represents the best of Delaware," Senator Coons continued, "a state of neighbors that can come together from all areas, from the private sector to the non-profit world, to build something that is truly great. This facility is an example of what partnering and collaboration can achieve.”

    Tags:
    Charter Schools
    Community Education Building
    Education
    Schools
    Students
    Wilmington
  • Sen. Coons talks manufacturing, innovation with Delaware MIT alums and American Chemical Society members

    Senator Coons meets with Delaware MIT alums and members of ACS Delaware Section on January 17, 2014.

    Local scientists, chemists and engineers packed the dining room at Brantwyn Estate on Friday to engage in open discussion with Sen. Coons about his recent work in Washington to promote advanced manufacturing and innovation. The event was the sixth joint meeting of the MIT Club of the Delaware Valley and the Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society.

    Chris, who holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Amherst College and worked for eight years for a materials-based science company, shared his genuine excitement about invention and innovation, as well as his keen understanding of the financing challenges materials-based science companies face. He discussed his efforts in the Senate around these issues, including leading the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign to grow our nation’s manufacturing sector, introducing the America INNOVATES Act to modernize aspects of our national lab system, and working on new bipartisan legislation to reauthorize investments in basic science and technology through innovative programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). 

     “I’m trying to help make the connection in the Senate between advanced manufacturing, research and development, and job opportunities,” said Chris. “America is and can continue to be one of the most productive manufacturing countries in the world, but manufacturing relies very heavily on R&D, on patents, and on continuous innovation.”

    “At a time of scarce public resources, science is a critical investment,” Chris continued. “Right now, I need your voice, because there are very few in Congress who understand the compounding value of investment in basic and applied science, about the risks we face in intellectual property, and the importance of getting STEM education at the elementary school level right. We've got huge challenges ahead but also great opportunities – in green chemistry, in reimagining advanced polymers, in advanced manufacturing – and I'm looking forward to working with you to ensure our nation remains a leader in science.”

  • Senator Coons discusses college decisions, assists with applications at Mt. Pleasant High School

    Senator Coons works on a college application with student Tah-Jay McLaughlin during a visit to Mt. Pleasant High School on November 15, 2013 for College Application Month.As part of College Application Month, Senator Coons met with thirty students from Mount Pleasant High School on Friday to discuss the importance of a college degree and how to go about choosing the right college.

    College Application Month is a nationwide effort to assist high school seniors in the college application process and increase college attendance. Special focus is placed on first-generation college students or those who otherwise may not have considered applying to college. The program is coordinated locally by the Delaware Department of Education and the Institute for Public Administration at the University of Delaware.

    “We just came through a very tough recession,” said Chris. “Unemployment amongst those with a college education was dramatically lower. Lifetime earnings are also dramatically higher if you have a college education – individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn on average more than $1 million more throughout their careers than those with only a high school degree.”

    Attentive students fired off questions to Senator Coons about his career path, education in Delaware, and his advice for making the most of their college experiences.

    Chris particularly stressed the importance of students completing their studies once they get to campus. “The worst case scenario is to go off to college having not really thought it through, not having a solid foundation, not having clarity about how you’re going to finish. You start, do two or three years, rack up a lot of debt and drop out. Do not do this. That’s buying a house you never get to live in.”

    Chris concluded his visit with a college application workshop for a small group of students. During the session, Chris counseled the students on a range of considerations – from Gilbert Peralta, a promising baseball player who is looking to continue his baseball career in college, to Tah-Jay McLaughlin and Ernie Lowden, who are looking for colleges that not only offer the courses of study they are interested in, but also fit them personally.

    Senator Coons is committed to helping increase the number of low-income and at-risk students able to access and complete a college education. He is the lead sponsor of the bipartisan American Dream Accounts Act, a bill to authorize the Department of Education to award three-year competitive grants for innovative and comprehensive partnerships that help low-income students prepare for a college education.

    Tags:
    College Accessibility
    Delaware Department of Education
    Education
    University of Delaware
  • In budget conference, Senator Coons advocates for investments that sustain growth

    At the second meeting of the budget conference committee Wednesday, Senator Coons questioned Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf about the impact of Congress’ current spending decisions on the nation’s economic competitiveness and the long-term unemployed.

     “You've testified before that not all cuts are the same, and that there are some ways in which we are cutting that are hurting our long-term competitiveness,” Senator Coons said. “That short-term cuts in things like education, or infrastructure, or research and development produce longer-term reductions in our capacity, and that we should be prioritizing things that will accelerate growth – that we should not be simply trying to get through this difficult fiscal time in a way that focuses on austerity; that we should also be investing in a way that sustains growth.”

    When asked about policies that could accelerate growth and help the long-term unemployed, Director Elmendorf said, “Of all non-defense discretionary spending, half represents investment of some sort. About 20 percent of non-defense discretionary spending is investment in physical capital, such as highways, another 15 percent goes for education and training, and about 10 percent goes for R&D, such as health research. Over all, we think those investments help to build a stronger economy in the future and cutbacks in those investments would reduce output and income in the future.” 

    The problem of long-term unemployment, Elmendorf noted, also “has important economic effects over time… It poses a very large risk of there being some set of people who will not find their way back to work at all or will not find their way to the productive sort of work that they were in before they lost their jobs.”

    Elmendorf said the CBO has “reviewed the evidence on a large number of different ways of trying to help people get back into the labor force,” a number of which “have been successful on a small scale and have not been tried on a large scale.” Elmendorf pledged to work with Senator Coons on developing policies that help the long-term unemployed get back to work.

    Watch the entire exchange: 

  • Senator Coons celebrates dedication of Air Mobility Command Museum’s C-5A Galaxy

    The C-5A Galaxy is dedicated to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base on November 9, 2013.

    Standing in the shadows of a two-ton aircraft, Senator Coons celebrated the Air Mobility Command Museum’s newest installment, the C-5A Galaxy, with remarks at the plane’s dedication ceremony Saturday morning. The famous military plane, nicknamed “Zero–One–Four” after its recognizeable tail number, is the first and only C-5A to be on display at any museum in the country and is especially historic because it is the only aircraft to have ever launched a Minuteman missile in flight, taking place in 1974 off the California coast.

    The brief dedication ceremony symbolically transferred the aircraft from the 164th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard to the AMC Museum.

    “This C-5 was part of the fleet that supported missions all over the world,” Chris said. “It flew missions during wartime and missions of humanitarian relief, missions on nearly every continent, and in every possible flying condition.”

    C-5s have been assigned to Dover AFB for over 42 years and the museum’s new C-5 was originally assigned at Dover Air Force Base from 1973-1977. The aircraft made its final flight from Tennessee in August and has spent the last few months being prepared for its addition to the museum’s collection.

    Chris closed his remarks recognizing the impact of the 167 volunteers who keep the museum operational. “To the men and women who make the AMC Museum run, not just as a site for tourism, but as a site for engagement, for education, and for inspiration, we thank you,” he said. “It is a big piece of America’s history, and that makes it an important piece of America’s future.”

    For more information about the C-5A display and the Air Mobility Command Museum, visit www.amcmuseum.org.  

    Tags:
    Dover Air Force Base
    Education
    Military
  • Delaware company demonstrates value of federally funded scientific research

    Delaware’s ET International, Inc. was among 100 companies profiled in a new report released today by the Science Coalition – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, including the University of Delaware. The report, titled, “Sparking Economic Growth 2.0: Companies Created from Federally Funded University Research, Fueling Innovation and Economic Growth” highlights companies that trace their roots to federally funded university research. The companies in the report were self-selected by the member universities of the Science Coalition and are illustrative of how federal research can spur the creation of companies that bring innovations to market, create jobs, and contribute to economic growth.

    ET International, Inc. (ETI) was founded in 2000 by Dr.Guang Rong Gao, a distinguished professor in computer and electrical engineering at the University of Delaware. The company originated in the university’s scientific labs and is now a leading provider of system software for advanced many-core computing systems ranging from supercomputers for highly scientific research to high-performance portable devices for smart phones. In a statement to the Science Coalition, the company noted that “Federally supported research completed at the University of Delaware and ETI” by Dr. Gao “allowed his deep-rooted belief in fundamental dataflow principles technologies to be successfully explored, designed and implemented…”

    Indeed, ETI’s first phase of growth generated over $22 million in investments from the industry’s most renowned High Performance Computing organizations including The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, IBM, Intel, Cray, and Samsung. ETI’s software solutions increase performance, computing power, and efficiency to allow users to fully realize the power of many-core architectures. Built on a decade of highly complex research, ETI currently provides software, applications and custom engineering services for the energy, defense, semiconductor, digital media, and financial markets.

    During a time when federal funding for R&D has been on the decline, with funding levels in 2013 at historic lows, ETI and the other companies highlighted in the report show the high return on investment yielded by federal funding of basic scientific research. Senator Coons is committed to ensuring that our nation continues to support innovative research and companies like ETI that create jobs and keep America on the cutting edge of technological innovation. 

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