Press Release

Committee Democrats: NSF and NIST Play Critical Roles in the Nation’s Innovation Agenda and Long-Term Growth

By SpaceRef Editor
March 11, 2011
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(Washington, DC) -The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing today to discuss the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request for research and for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF); and technology and innovation programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Testifying on NSF’s budget request were the Director, Dr. Subra Suresh, and the Chairman of the National Science Board, Dr. Ray Bowen. Testifying on NIST’s budget request was the Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and the Director of NIST, Dr. Patrick Gallagher. This was the first opportunity for both Dr. Suresh and Dr. Bowen to testify before the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“I’m pleased to see that the President’s budget request shares this Committee’s goal, as reflected in the America COMPETES Act and the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, of doubling the budgets of these agencies, and laying a strong foundation for our nation’s future competitiveness,” said Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “This President understands that our future economic growth, and therefore our ability to reduce our debt in the future, is tied very strongly to the investments we make in science and innovation today.”

Democratic Members expressed support for the robust research budget being proposed for NSF and for its efforts to provide opportunities to enhance critically important interdisciplinary research in areas such as advanced manufacturing and nanoelectronics. “The NSF is absolutely critical to American innovation and economic competitiveness, and while it is vital we address budget deficits, we must preserve investments that lead to private-sector job creation and growth,” said Research and Science Education Ranking Member Dan Lipinski (D-IL). “We also need to make sure we do everything possible to turn NSF discoveries into American jobs. That’s why I’m very pleased the NSF budget request invests in an Advanced Manufacturing Initiative based on language I included in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Suresh when he says that this initiative ‘holds tremendous potential for significant short-term and long-term economic impact.'”

Members also expressed support for NIST’s budget request and in particular the agency’s sustained commitments to addressing critical challenges in manufacturing, clean energy, and cybersecurity. “NIST is crucial to American economic development, technology, and innovation,” said Technology and Innovation Ranking Member David Wu (D-OR). “It is encouraging that the President’s proposed budget reflects the important role that NIST plays in setting standards, developing innovative technologies, and bolstering U.S. manufacturing through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Supporting NIST’s mission is key to ensuring our long-term economic competitiveness.”

Democratic Members raised concerns about some of the specific details in the request, including level funding for many of NSF’s important STEM education and broadening participation programs, and they stressed the need for coordination between NIST and other agencies on a number of new standards-related efforts proposed in the budget request. However, Ranking Member Johnson reserved her strongest criticism for the looming cuts to these agencies in the pending FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.

“If the funding bill–H.R.1–passed by the House last month is enacted, we will be moving in exactly the wrong direction,” said Ranking Member Johnson. “I share the well-founded concern of many Members that if we don’t act to address our deficit, we will be leaving our children and grandchildren with a growing debt that they will spend their lifetimes trying to pay down. However, I am dumbfounded that we are even considering cutting the very investments that will reduce our debt over the long-term, ensure that there are well-paying jobs for future generations, and help our young people develop the skills that they need to get those jobs. The lasting consequences of the proposed cuts to science and education are enormous, and go well beyond the jobs and research facilities that would be lost today.”

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SpaceRef staff editor.