Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn House Office Building
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
On October 12, 2005, in response to a bipartisan request by this committee and our colleagues in the Senate, the National Academies announced the report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The distinguished panel led by Norm Augustine painted a very scary picture and told us that without action, the future was bleak for our children and grandchildren. This report was without question a call to arms.
So, this committee moved forward by turning the Gathering Storm recommendations into legislative language. The final result was enactment of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 with the bipartisan support of 367 members. Moreover, with the leadership of Senators Alexander and Bingaman, and 69 Senate cosponsors, the Senate approved the Conference Report by unanimous consent.
Now after 3 years we are back to work on reauthorizing COMPETES. Since enactment of COMPETES, the committee has held 48 hearings on areas addressed in the bill before us today.
The subcommittees, through a bipartisan process, have brought to the full committee a strong body of work and I would like to thank our Subcommittee Chairs and Ranking Members for their stewardship of the matters in each of their jurisdictions. I also would like to especially thank the majority and minority staffs for the many hours of thoughtful work that they have committed. And all the good advice we have received from Members on and off the committee, as well as other interested outside parties.
Honestly, this bill is a big deal and is important. It’s a big deal and important for our country and for this committee’s stature in the Congress.
It’s a big deal and an important step in leading our innovation agenda. It’s a big deal and important for the business community including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable which is why they have been so supportive. It’s a big deal and important for our universities and our national labs. And, it’s a big deal and important for our children and grand children so they are not the first generation of Americans to inherit a standard of living lower than their parents.
If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, where our country’s technology edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today.
The statistics speak for them themselves. More than 50% of our economic growth since World War II can be directly attributed to investments in research.
The path is simple. Research leads to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs.
Even before the price of oil hit record highs, Gathering Storm recommended greater energy independence. But as we move to a cleaner, more efficient and more balanced energy portfolio, we should not trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign technology. That why is ARPA-E is so important.
Through this process, there has been a lot of legitimate discussion about federal deficits. I agree that we must address the challenges presented by our deficits, but we must also invest in our country’s future. I remember Newt Gingrich saying one of his greatest regrets was not doubling the funding for the NSF when he put NIH on the doubling path.
In the manager’s amendment I will offer today, we will maintain a doubling path for our research accounts over the next 10 years, but on a slightly less steep trajectory. Though some of my colleagues may believe this cut is not enough, I would offer to them that Newt Gingrich’s doubling path of NIH took place over 6 years, and in fact nearly tripled over twelve.
If I were responsible for writing this bill myself, it would look somewhat different than the bill we consider today. But that’s a good thing. There has been a sincere effort to be inclusive, to work with Members on both sides of the aisle and develop a bill that is a true committee work product. I believe this is a good bill both on substance and on process. And it is a better bill because of the contributions of our members.
Ms. Johnson, Ms. Edwards, Ms. Fudge and Mr. Lujan have improved the bills efforts on diversity and broadening participation. Dr. Ehlers has helped perfect definitions for the Office of Science. Mr. Smith has helped ensure standards developed through NIST remain voluntary for business and industry. Mr. Garamendi has helped ensure that findings of a Fusion Energy report make their way into the Department of Energy planning.
These are just a few examples of amendments that have improved our product, without mentioning the hours and hours of staff discussions and countless changes made during the past month and a half.
COMPETES is and will continue to be a Bipartisan, Bicameral effort that everyone on this committee can feel ownership of and should take bragging-rights on.
Finally, let me say that more than 50 years ago when DARPA was first created, they had no idea that the research they would fund would be responsible for creation of the Internet or proliferation of GPS technology. But it did. And those inventions started with federal dollars, as well as countless other game-changing technologies.
In 30 years from now, when most of us are gone from Congress, and work begins on the 5th or 6th Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, I am confident that my good friend Mr. Hall will regale everyone with stories about our efforts today and how we got our innovative spirit back on track and the breakthroughs that ensued.
I now recognize Mr. Hall to present his opening remarks.
* Please note the Full Committe will be marking up an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.