Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02) says the U.S. government, which spends $130 billion a year in basic research, needs to recoup some of that investment when the research leads to commercially successful applications -- and it should require that those new products be "made in America."
To accomplish these goals and focus the spotlight on government research, Fattah today introduced the American Discoveries American Jobs Commission Act. The bill looks at ways the federal government can leverage its sponsorship of basic research to expand support for that research, grow manufacturing jobs and recoup a portion of its investment.
"The Federal government should be able to claim royalties from its own investment in early research, then reinvest those royalties in science, technology, engineering and math education and future federal research," Fattah said. "If new or improved products are on the commercial market because of federal research dollars then they should be stamped "Made in America.'"
The Philadelphia Congressman said, "Federally funded research is a quiet success story that immeasurably improves our way of life. Every day, taxpayers are contributing to the foundational research that is necessary for the new discoveries that improve people's lives. They deserve to know that their hard earned tax dollars have been put to work, and they deserve to know they are contributing to the economic growth arising from research investments."
The Fattah bill establishes a commission to assess the benefits of collecting royalties from government subsidized research that has led to commercialized products. The fees would be reinvested in further research for future discoveries. The commission is further directed to make certain that products developed with federal research funds are manufactured in the United States. This would not only produce jobs but guarantee broader benefits from initial investments.
Over the years, the $130 billion that the federal government spends annually on research and development has led to new products and processes such as antibiotics, plastics, airplanes, computers, microwaves, and bioengineered drugs. These types of innovations are responsible for up to one-half the growth of the U.S. economy and are the principal driving force in the nation's long-term economic prosperity.
The Commission that Fattah proposes would have nine members, three appointed by the President and six by Congress. It would report its findings to Congress, with the ultimate goal of inspiring legislation to accomplish the stated goals regarding innovation, research, royalties and job creation.
Fattah, the senior Democratic Appropriator for the Department of Commerce and federal science agencies, has made government research and manufacturing innovation a major agenda item for his Congressional work.
In addition to the new legislation Fattah has scheduled meetings tonight and tomorrow with officials of the European Union to promote research and innovation. Fattah met today on Capitol Hill with Dr. Ruxandra Draghia, Director of the Health Directorate at the Research DG of the European Commission. The Congressman was also scheduled on Wednesday to attend the European Institute Breakfast with Robert-Jan Smits on Research and Innovation Cooperation, New Horizons for Transatlantic Research and Innovation Cooperation.
Fattah is Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce Justice Science and related agencies.