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May 20, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – During today’s full committee markup of the FY2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill, Congressman David E. Price (NC-04) offered an amendment to increase funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the levels requested in President Obama’s budget. This funding supports basic research, innovation, and economic growth. Congressman Price gave the following remarks in support of his amendment.

“Mr. Chairman, my Amendment would address a critical shortfall in the underlying bill by increasing funding for National Science Foundation (NSF) research to the level requested by the President.

“This amendment would require a revision of the sequestration-level caps, sooner rather than later, which is exactly what this appropriations committee should insist upon. This bill’s inadequacy with respect to our long-term national research endeavor is just one of the compelling reasons for breaking out of this Tea Party-imposed straitjacket.

“In the 2010 America Competes Act, we committed to increase funding for NSF research to $6.6 billion by Fiscal Year 2013. The bill before us is way below that level. And later today, the majority’s COMPETES Act reauthorization bill will be on the House floor, authorizing next year’s NSF research budget $400 million below the 2013 Authorized level. Based on these differences, it would appear that this body’s commitment to scientific research has waned.   

“I have the privilege of representing the Research Triangle in Congress, but you don’t have to represent a high-tech district to understand the importance of scientific research to the American economy.

“Economists estimate that nearly half the growth in America’s GDP since World War II is related to the development and adoption of new technologies. 

“And while private capital plays a key role in scientific research and development, federal investments are the bedrock of our nation’s R&D enterprise.  About two-thirds of the nation’s basic research is directly supported by federal agencies.

“NSF’s specialty is in basic research, research that may be slow and with outcomes that may be difficult to predict, but that serves as the catalyst for innovation.

“Let’s not fool ourselves - Don’t think for a second that underfunding, or flat funding NSF and the basic research it supports will not harm other Federal research activities. The more applied research endeavors at NASA, NIH, and DOD depend on the foundational knowledge gained through NSF-supported research.  This bill would continue that trend.

“And there is an additional problem; the bill before us, in an unprecedented manner, disproportionately reduces funding for two NSF directorates - namely the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences and Geosciences directorates.  At first, I planned to offer an amendment to challenge this, both procedurally and substantively.  It is a bad idea to specify directorate funding in report language, as this bill does, and it is a bad idea to translate ideological attacks on social science and climate science into cuts in vital research in these areas.

“All of this will need to be revisited as this bill proceeds. But for now, my amendment focuses our attention on the bigger picture; the dangers of declining commitment of a great nation to basic research and this bill’s failure to reverse that trend.

“I urge support of my amendment.”