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Foster Introduces Amendment To Increase Funding For Scientific R&D

Apr 30, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) introduced an amendment to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The office provides funding for our national labs and supports a wide range of scientific research and development.

Foster’s amendment would increase funding for the Office of Science by almost $240 million, bringing total funding up to meet the President’s request. 

Video of Foster speaking about the amendment is available here.

Text of Foster’s remarks is below:

Madame Chairman – I rise today to offer an amendment to address an imbalance in our efforts to promote the long-term economic and national security interests of the United States.

This appropriations bill would underfund the Office of Science by almost $240 million below the President’s request for the next fiscal year. 

My amendment would correct this, by bringing the Office of Science account up to the President’s request level. 

Investments in the DOE Office of Science and it’s laboratories have supported American innovation and discovery science at the forefront of the physical sciences and engineering. 

It’s impossible and unwise to ignore the value of our national labs.  They have helped answer fundamental questions on how the universe works, supported breakthroughs in fields as diverse as medicine and astronomy, and developments in industry that drive our economy.

Investments in our labs have led to the construction of accelerators and detectors that enable our scientists to discover new particles - including quarks and the Higgs Boson - to help explain the nature of the universe in matter, energy, space and time.

Physicists have used their fundamental research to develop new technologies, including the PET scan, which is used every day to treat patients diagnosed with cancerous tumors.

The Office of Science has also supported the training of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers for more than 60 years.

We need to maintain a competitive advantage now more than ever.

While the US is reducing investments in federal R&D, Europe and Asia have been increasing investments.

In 1968, we spent 9.1 percent of the budget on research and development, and today we are spending only 3.6 percent.

If this trend continues, it won’t be long before China’s investments in R&D will far outpace our own.

The Office of Science is not only an important investment in our future; it’s a valuable investment in our economy.  

Our national labs, and the major user facilities housed at those labs, are some of the greatest tools we have to offer  researchers and industry.

They are also important contributors to the local economy, the economic impact of Argonne and Fermilab in Illinois is estimated to be more than $1.3 billion annually.

Those who seek to underfund and eliminate federal programs often say that the private sector can do it better. But when it comes to fundamental scientific research, that simply is not an option. 

The Office of Science is responsible for building and maintaining research facilities which many private companies rely on, but are far too big for any single business or university to develop.

These user facilities, such as the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, are a critical research tool to academics and industry alike. For example, Eli Lilly conducts nearly half of the research in their drug discovery portfolio at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne.  But the funding levels in this bill will threaten the Advanced Photon Source and other critical projects. 

At a time of ongoing economic stress, we must continue to develop the next generation of the American technical workforce.  As other world powers are growing, and challenging our position as the global leader in science and innovation, we cannot let the number of American scientists and researchers, or the quality of their research facilities, diminish. 

Bringing the office of science budget up to the President’s request is crucial to maintaining that quality.

I would also like to briefly discuss the offset, which is the NNSA’s Weapons Activities Account.

It is important for us to recognize that we need to strike the right balance between defending our country today and investing in scientific research for the future.

I would argue that maintaining an advantage as the global leader in science and technology makes us much more secure than amassing and maintaining excessive numbers of nuclear weapons.

Madame Speaker, I rise today because we must continue to invest in American innovation and fully fund the research and development conducted through the DOE Office of Science.

But I understand that the majority party has the power to block that funding and that there will be a point of order pending against this amendment.

So with that, I ask for unanimous consent to withdraw my amendment.