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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, this bill H.R. 2354 reduces the Department of Energy's Office of Science from about $43 million below this year's level. My amendment would restore that funding so that the Office of Science can sustain its current operations.

I know the subcommittee chair, my friend from New Jersey, and the ranking Democrat, my friend from Indiana, understand very well the importance of this office of the Department of Energy, and I know they've worked hard to fit their bill into the budget constraints; but I must ask them to join me in taking another look at this office.

Scientific research lies at the very heart of the national innovation system that keeps us competitive, that enhances our quality of life, that fuels our economy, and that improves our national security. The Office of Science is the Nation's primary sponsor of research in the physical sciences. Its funding helps maintain America's first-rate workforce of research scientists and engineers, who are working daily to address some of the greatest challenges and to push the boundaries of existing knowledge.

Thousands of graduate students and early career scientists at hundreds of U.S. institutions, the next generation of America's scientific talent, depend on the support of the Office of Science for their research and training. In addition, the office maintains excellent, unique user facilities that are relied on by more than 25,000 scientists from industry, academia and national laboratories to advance important research that creates jobs today and that could lead to entire industries tomorrow.

The success of the Office of Science clearly shows the quality and the importance of the work supported there: MRI machines, PET scanners, new composite materials for military hardware and civilian motor vehicles, the use of medical and industrial isotopes, biofuel technologies, DNA sequencing technologies, battery technology for electric vehicles, artificial retinas, safer nuclear reactor designs, three-dimensional models of pathogens for vaccine development, tools to manufacture nano materials, better sensors--on and on.
The Office of Science has been the source of hundreds and hundreds of innovative technologies. Some have become the underpinnings of modern scientific disciplines and have revolutionized medicine and energy and military technology.

The America COMPETES Act--passed in a very bipartisan vote here in Congress in 2007 and signed into law by President George Bush--recognized that we have underfunded our basic research agencies for far too long, and it laid out a vision for doubling the funding at our research agencies, including the Office of Science. This law was reauthorized last year. The bill we are considering today woefully underfunds the office by this national goal.

Matching last year's funding level with an additional $42.7 million, as my amendment would do, is the least we can do. Many dozens of organizations, universities, and companies have joined to advocate strongly for maintaining the current level of work for the Office of Science. My amendment is fully offset by transferring funding from the nuclear weapons account, which receives an additional $195 million in the underlying bill before us today.

So let's get our priorities straight. Investments in our Federal science agencies and our national innovation infrastructure are not Big Government spending programs that we cannot afford; they are the minimum downpayments for our Nation's national security, public health, and economic vitality. All this talk down the street now about how we're going to grow, this is it. We cannot afford to postpone this research.

I urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment.


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