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Full Committee - H.R. 2965, H.R. 2729, H.R. 1622

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

Today the Committee is going to markup three good, bipartisan pieces of legislation. The first bill, H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act, is one of the most significant bills the Committee will likely address in this Congress.

The Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) is a more than 2.3 billion dollar Federal investment in small high-tech businesses that assists them in developing commercial products and assists agencies in their mission-related research agendas.

It is the single largest Federal program supporting private-sector research activities.

Since its beginning more than 25 years ago, we have learned about the significant contributions small high-tech start-up companies can have to our economic and employment growth – AmGen, Apple, Microsoft, Genetech, and Research-in-Motion all started as small high-tech entrepreneurial firms. In the current economic environment we need to do everything possible to support small high-tech entrepreneurs in the United States, which is the goal of the SBIR program.

There is no stronger supporter of the SBIR program than Representative David Wu. H.R. 2965 is largely the result of hard work by Representative Wu. In the 110th and 111th Congresses he has held three subcommittee hearings on the program and has worked closely with the Small Business Committee in crafting this legislation. H.R. 2965 is substantially the same bill which passed the House last year with only 43 no votes. H.R. 2965 was introduced with strong bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, the SBIR program is operating under rules more than 25 years old. H.R. 2965 makes major improvements to the SBIR program which reflect the current set of challenges confronting our small high-tech entrepreneurs. I strongly support this legislation and will work with my counterpart on the Small Business Committee to bring it to the Floor as quickly as possible. This program is set to expire on July 31, so time is of the essence.

Today we will also consider H.R. 2729, a bill introduced by Mr. Luján that will formally authorize the seven National Environmental Research Parks supported by the Department of Energy. These Parks are a truly unique national resource.

They provide large tracts of undisturbed land that enable long-term research in environmental sciences, climate change, and for the development and testing of methods to clean up past pollution.

The Parks are located on DOE sites in states across the country. We’ve had bipartisan cooperation in making this a good bill, and I hope you will all join me in supporting it.

Finally, the Subcommittee will consider H.R. 1622, a bill introduced by Mr. Sullivan of Oklahoma and co-sponsored by my friend from Texas, Mr. Hall, as well as Mr. Lujan and Mr. Lucas. This bill reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s research, development, and demonstration program in natural gas powered vehicles and related infrastructure.

The vehicle fleet of the future will include a diverse range of fuels and vehicle technologies. And since it is both cleaner than petroleum and domestically available, Natural gas will likely play an important role in a more sustainable transportation sector.

I hope we can continue to improve these bills in a bipartisan manner today, and I look forward to moving to the floor for final passage.

I now recognize Mr. Hall to present his opening remarks.

Opening Statement By Chairman David Wu

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In today’s economy, small business is where innovation happens. The Science and Technology Committee, especially the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee, intends to promote the science and technology research that drives an innovation-based economy.

At more than $2.3 billion per year, the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs comprise the largest source of federal support for technological innovation in the private sector. Given the current economic climate, we need robust SBIR and STTR programs to create the next generation of companies that will provide high-paying jobs and grow our economy.

However, these programs originated more than 20 years ago. Given the economic changes we have seen during the past two decades, we need to update these programs to reflect the current economic realities of our increasingly competitive innovation economy.

The Technology and Innovation Subcommittee has held several hearings on SBIR and STTR in the past several years, including one as recent as April 2009. Our witnesses shared many recommendations about how SBIR and STTR can be strengthened.

Recently, H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act, was introduced. This bill reauthorizes the SBIR and STTR programs through 2011.

The bill increases the Phase I awards from $100,000 to $250,000 and Phase II awards from $750,000 to $2 million to better reflect the actual costs of doing high-tech research. It also increases the flexibility of the SBIR program by allowing cross-agency awards and allowing applicants to apply directly for Phase II funding;

H.R. 2965 allows venture capital-backed small businesses to once again apply for awards and specifically defines their eligibility requirements. There has been much debate over the role of venture capital participation, but the National Academies recently released a report stating that venture capital-backed companies had a minimal role in the programs and did not crowd out other small businesses.

In addition, the bill expands requirements for agency databases of award recipients, requiring interoperability and accessibility between various agency databases. This will allow for improved oversight by Congress on how agencies actually operate SBIR. H.R. 2965 also establishes an Interagency Committee, co-chaired by the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the director of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, to report to Congress on the best practices for commercialization of SBIR- and STTR-funded research.

In closing, this committee has been a leader in passing legislation that advances our innovation agenda. Today we continue our leadership by reauthorizing SBIR and STTR. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.


Opening Statement By Vice Chairman Ben R. Luján

Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the committee.

H.R. 2729 formally authorizes seven National Environmental Research Parks located at National Laboratories within six major ecological regions of the United States. In my district, the Research Park at Los Alamos National Laboratory includes a landscape of canyons, mesas, mountains, and the Rio Grande, providing a diverse range of ecosystems to explore. The Research Park conducts ongoing environmental studies on everything from contaminant transport to woodland productivity to long term climate change effects and human impact on the land. Over 125 publications related to the ecology and interaction between lab operations and the environment have been written about Los Alamos and the Pajarito Plateau it rests on.

The Research Parks are one of our nation’s most valuable environmental research assets, and it is time for them to be recognized in law and explicitly provided the resources they need to continue their valuable work. This legislation supports the Research Parks’ research and monitoring programs. It authorizes core funding that will ensure that they can continue the important work they already perform, and provide opportunities to expand on new research and energy development initiatives as well. This bill also encourages environmental science education and public outreach activities, and it establishes a Research Parks coordinator that will assist the Parks in collaborating with each other.

I want to thank my Republican colleagues for their support, Ms. Biggert for her cosponsorship and Ranking Member Hall for his amendment today. I want to thank Members of the Energy and Environment subcommittee for their valuable insight and input over the past several weeks as we have worked on this bill. I’d also like to thank the Chairman for his leadership and committee staff for their assistance on this legislation.

I am excited to work on this important bill as it moves forward toward passage in the House, and I look forward to working on future legislation that seeks to improve environmental science, education, and energy research and development programs in our National Laboratories.

H.R. 2965, the Enhancing Small Business Research and Innovation Act of 2009
H.R. 2729, to authorize the designation of National Environmental Research Parks by the Secretary of Energy, and for other purposes
H.R. 1622, to provide for a program of research, development, and demonstration on natural gas vehicles

111th Congress