U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) today issued the following statement after the House passed an emergency supplemental bill containing $62.5 million for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, which funds activities at Fermi and Argonne National Laboratories. The science funding is just one part of broader legislation that also contains funds for American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, an expansion of G.I. benefits for veterans, and a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for Americans looking for work.
"It's a good day for U.S. competitiveness. At last, the House and Senate both have now passed versions of the supplemental that include funding for research critical to finding long-term energy solutions and protecting our economic future.*
"The previous House-passed version of the bill failed to reverse devastating cuts to scientific programs that were made in the fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations package. Had that version prevailed, ground-breaking research would have remained stalled and scientific institutions like Fermi and Argonne would continue to hemorrhage talented researchers due to furloughs and layoffs.
"Today, the House recognized what the Senate acknowledged last month -- we can't compete globally if we cut funding for operations at advanced research facilities and give our best scientists no choice but to work for our competitors in Europe and Asia.
"Acknowledging the need isn't enough. Cutting-edge research programs at our national labs deserve a stronger commitment than ever from Congress. That's why, as the House and Senate begin work on funding bills for fiscal year 2009, I will continue to fight - along with those on both sides of the aisle -- to increase funding for science. It's an uphill battle, but we've built a strong, bipartisan coalition, and I'm hopeful that we will continue to make gains.
On Military and Veterans Funding:
"The men and women serving in our armed forces deserve nothing less than our full support. The progress they are making is undeniable, and this bill will ensure that they have the equipment and resources they need to continue their success. And it doesn't place arbitrary restrictions or politically-motivated limits on our commanders in the field.
"This bill also ensures that as our troops return home, they and their families will get the educational benefits they deserve. It includes a $62 billion-dollar expansion of the G.I. Bill, and adds an important provision allowing members of the military to transfer their educational benefits to their families. These are benefits we owe our veterans, and the children of those who risk their lives in defense of the freedoms we enjoy.
On Flood Relief:
"I'm very grateful to my colleagues in the House for responding so compassionately to our requests for flood relief in Illinois and other Midwestern states. While nothing can fully repair the damage, the $2.65 billion provided in the bill will help rebuild towns and lives that have been devastated by the recent storms. And it will help us to construct new, stronger levies to prevent future tragedies.
On Unemployment Benefits:
"The American economy has been hard-hit by turmoil in the housing market and record high gas prices. As a result, many hard-working Americans are finding themselves unemployed. This bill will relieve some of that pressure by responsibly extending unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks. At the same time, it protects U.S. taxpayers by maintaining a long-standing requirement that applicants must have worked 20 weeks before qualifying for benefits.
"All in all, this bill is a big win, both for our troops and for Illinois."
*Editor's Note: On May 15, 2008, the House approved H.R. 2642, an emergency supplemental bill containing no funding for the DOE's Office of Science. Rep. Biggert voted "no". On May 22, 2008, the Senate passed an amended version of the supplemental containing $100 million for the DOE's Office of Science. Today, the House amended and passed a new version of H.R. 2642, which contains $62.5 million in science funding. Rep. Biggert voted "yes". It passed the House in two parts by votes of 26/19/2008 12:00:00 AM