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America Competes Reauthorization Act 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HALL of Texas. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today to speak on H.R. 5116, a bill reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. COMPETES was originally authorized in 2007 in response to recommendations in the National Academies Report, ``Rising Above the Gathering Storm,'' and initiatives proposed in President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative that stressed the need for increased investments in basic science research and development. The 2007 House-passed bill was a 3-year authorization that placed three agencies, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy on a 10-year doubling path.

I remain committed to the underlying goals of the America COMPETES Act. I like the thrust. I like the goals. Most of us on our side of the docket did. We believe that we should continue to prioritize investments in basic research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics--the STEM--education. These long-term investments, coupled with policies that reduce tax burdens, streamline Federal regulations, and balance the Federal budget, are necessary steps for our Nation to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

However, the bill goes far beyond the original intent and scope of the COMPETES legislation. One of my primary concerns is the cost of the overall package. At $86 billion, it represents over $22 billion in new funding above the fiscal year 2010 basic level. Even if you consider the 10-year doubling path for the three agencies as opposed to flat funding, the bill is still almost $8 billion over that amount.

It is also important to note that these agencies received an additional $5 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Given the current state of our national economy and the fact that our Nation's budget deficit has increased 50 percent since the last authorization 3 years ago, we have to be mindful of our spending if America is to continue to compete globally.

I am also concerned by the creation of several new programs in this bill, including Energy Innovation Hubs at DOE, a loan guarantee program at the Department of Commerce, and regional innovation clusters at the Department of Commerce. Several of these new programs fund activities beyond basic science research and development, and many are potentially duplicative of current efforts and could divert money away from priority basic research.

Given the number of new programs in this bill, it is especially troubling that the authorization length is 5 years, as it limits congressional oversight opportunities and calls for out-year funding increases without regard to the current and future fiscal environment.

At the full committee markup in April, Republicans offered 39 amendments to, among other things, address increased costs, shifts in priorities, duplications of programs, and congressional oversight. Some of these concerns will be debated today as part of our amendment process.

Before I close, I would also like to thank and acknowledge my staff for all of the hard work they have done on this bill. I also want to thank Chairman Gordon and his staff for all of their efforts. Chairman Gordon and I have worked together in this body for several years, and I will absolutely miss working with him when he retires at the end of this year. As a matter of fact, as he leaves this session, I hope we can name part of this program after BART GORDON because he is the father of it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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