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VIDEO: Foster Advocates For Increased Funding For Scientific R&D

Jul 11, 2014
Press Release

Washington, DC – Last night, Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) spoke on the House floor to advocate for increased funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. 

Video of Foster’s speech is available here.

Full text of Foster’s speech is below:

I rise today to offer an amendment to increase overall spending for Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The underlying bill provides a budget allocation approximately $40 million below the President’s request for the Office of Science.

My amendment would restore the funding level to the President’s request.

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

My amendment would ensure that our national labs are on sound footing to maintain our role as a global leader in innovation and scientific research.

The greatest long-term economic and national security threat that our country faces is the prospect of losing our role as world leaders in science and technology.

Nothing is more crucial to preserving our role as world leaders than the fundamental and applied scientific research that is supported by the DOE Office of Science.

As a physicist who worked at Fermi National Accelerator Lab for over 20 years, I understand the productivity and the potential of the Department of Energy’s National Lab system, their contributions to our economy, and the wide range of scientific research that they support.

The Chicago area is home to a number of scientific centers, including Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory.

And the economic impact of Argonne and Fermilab in Illinois alone is estimated to be more than $1.3 billion annually.

The work done at Argonne and Fermi National Labs not only supports our local economy, employing roughly 5,000 people in Illinois, but it is critical to our nation’s long-term economic success. 

Despite the economic benefits of scientific research, federal investments in research and development are at historically low levels.

In 2014, our federal spending on R&D, both defense and non-defense, amounts to less than 1% of our GDP, a trend that simply must be reversed.

In fact, over the last three years, federal research and development expenditures decreased by 16.3 percent, which is the steepest decline over a three year period since the end of the Space Race.

We simply cannot sustain this downward trend and still expect to be at the cutting edge of scientific research and innovation.

The Office of Science is responsible for supporting research that is too big for any single company or university to develop.

Our national labs are a critical research tool to academics and industry alike. For example, Eli Lilly conducts nearly half of its drug discovery research at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne.

The Office of Science is also home to the Department’s newest ventures – the Innovation Hubs, which seek to discover and develop the next generation of energy sources and delivery systems.

Programs like the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, headquartered at Argonne, and the Fuels from Sunlight Hub, headquartered at the California Institute of Technology, bring together multiple teams of researchers who are working to develop energy advancements that have the potential to transform energy systems.

The Office of Science also invests in fusion, a safe, clean and sustainable energy source that has the scientific potential to provide the U.S. with energy independence and a nearly limitless energy supply.

Through the Office of Science Biological and Environmental Research programs, we have become world leaders in biofuels research. This research is laying the foundation for a revolution in biofuel production that will help lessen our dependence on foreign oil. And the list goes on.

The investments of the DOE Office of Science have also supported research driven by intellectual curiosity alone. Such as the discovery science at the forefront of high energy and particle physics, or astronomy, or the physics of ultracold atoms.

These investments have led to the development of new technologies such as the construction of accelerators and detectors that enable our scientists to discover new particles -- including the Top Quark, the heaviest known form of matter, and the Higgs Boson -- to explain the fundamental nature of the universe.

But perhaps most importantly, the Office of Science has supported the training of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers for more than 60 years.

At a time of continuing 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 afford to let the number of American scientists and researchers, or the quality of their research facilities, diminish. 

Funding scientific research and development results in one of the highest return-on-investments our nation can make. It is essential we continue to fully support funding for our national labs to preserve our global competitive advantage.