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Public Statements

Government Spending Accountability Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member for making small changes to this legislation to address concerns that I raised about this bill last year. However, the premise of the bill remains the same and for that reason, I oppose H.R. 313, the so-called ``Government Spending Accountability Act''. H.R. 313 is fundamentally flawed because it would make significant changes to federal employees' ability to travel to conferences and meetings.

This bill institutes prohibitions and impediments that would hinder American scientists' ability to collaborate and communicate with scientists at other institutions and laboratories.

Although I appreciate the sponsors' efforts to ensure oversight on travel expenditures, I'm not sure they realize the impact that this legislation would have on science and technology, which is the engine of American innovation. The informal conversations, as well as the formal presentations and everything else that goes on between scientists from different institutions, from different countries, lead to new collaborations that have the promise of new discoveries. These are not fancy junkets.

Scientific conferences are critically important. For example, the American Chemical Society and, the American Physical Society have stated that the development of an anticancer drug was the result of collaboration between a team of scientists from three laboratories that took place at one of these conferences. This bill would hinder that kind of collaboration. In a time when the federal government should be making science a priority, passing a bill that would make scientists jump through hurdles and get around impediments would, in fact, weaken American scientists, weaken American science, and impede the ability of American scientists to innovate.

That is not wise. This is not the way to build our economy and to foster advancements in innovation. We should be investing more in research and development, which means, of course, investing in scientists, but also investing in their ability to pursue science.

Would Congress do better if we did not meet in person, if we stayed home and got on conference calls every once in a while? I don't think so. I think the gains that are made in good legislation that come from conferences, from working together as colleagues as we gather for votes, or in committees, are invaluable. The same can be said for scientific conferences--better innovation can occur when scientists meet together, face-to-face.


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