Committee on Science and Technology
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Member Speeches :: December 21, 2010

Chairman Gordon's Floor Statement on H.R. 5116 – the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 with Senate Amendment

Chairman Gordon Floor Script
H.R. 5116 – the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, Senate Amendment.
December 21, 2010
 
As prepared for delivery
 
On October 12, 2005, in response to a bipartisan request by the Science and Technology Committee and some of our colleagues in the Senate, the National Academies released the report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The distinguished panel painted a very scary picture. The report made it clear that without action, the future was bleak for our children and grandchildren. This report was without question a call to arms.
 
This September, Norm Augustine released Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5
 
The updated report highlights progress that has been made in the past five years, including enactment of the original America COMPETES Act, but underscores that America’s competitive position in the world now faces greater challenges and that research investments are even more critical today. 
 
The message from the report is clear: we need to double-down on our investments in science and technology. The worst thing we could do would be to downshift while the rest of the world kicks it into high gear. 
 
As chairman of the Gathering Storm Committee and former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Norm Augustine said, in all the years he was an aircraft engineer and dealing with the common dilemma of trying to make an overweight aircraft fly, the solution was never to lop off an engine.
 
Science funding is the engine of a knowledge-based economy. If we remove it, our economy will crash and burn. 
 
If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, during which our country’s technological edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today.
 
More than half of our economic growth since World War II can be attributed to development and adoption of new technologies. These investments are the path toward sustainable economic recovery and growth and the path toward prosperity for the next 50 years.
 
There is an undeniable relationship between investments in R&D and the creation of jobs, the creation of companies, and economic growth.
 
The Science Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of the nation’s leading research universities released a report entitled “Sparking Economic Growth: How Federally Funded University Research Creates Innovation, New Companies and Jobs.” This report tells the stories of 100 companies, including Google, Cisco, SAS, Genentech, Orbital Sciences, Sun Power, Medtronic and Hewlett Packard, that were all created based on research funded with federal dollars.   
 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Task Force for American Innovation all understand the benefits to U.S companies of making a sustained commitment to research and STEM Education.
 
We have a huge opportunity before us to make progress toward that goal. 
While there have been concessions made in light of the economic environment, this bill preserves the intent of the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report and the original COMPETES. It keeps our basic research agencies on a doubling path, it continues to invest in high-risk, high-reward energy technology development, it will help improve STEM education, and it will help unleash the American spirit of innovation. 
 
COMPETES is and will continue to be a Bipartisan, Bicameral effort about which every member can feel proud.  
 
The original COMPETES passed in 2007 with bipartisan support of 367 members. Moreover, with the leadership of Senators Alexander and Bingaman, and 69 Senate cosponsors, the Senate approved the Conference Report by unanimous consent. 
 
The Reauthorization passed committee on April 28 with bipartisan support, it passed the House on May 26th with bipartisan support, and now, the Senate has weighed in and approved it—unanimously. 
 
I applaud all of the people who have worked on this bill, including all the Members of the Science and Technology Committee and my dear friend Ralph Hall. This has been a team effort, across the aisle and across the Capitol.
 
I also want to take a moment to extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the staff of the Committee on Science and Technology.
 
Their tireless efforts in crafting the House version of this legislation, working through the tough spots and shepherding it to final passage today deserve acknowledgment. Without them, this reauthorization of COMPETES would not have been possible. 
 
We are all familiar with the legions of smart, talented professionals who grace the corridors of this institution. I am sure each of us is impressed on a regular basis with the knowledge and expertise of the staff we work with most closely.   However, I am always amazed by the wealth of knowledge lodged with the staff at the Science and Technology Committee.
 
House committees are often populated with political scientists and attorneys, and the Science Committee has our fair share who do an excellent and necessary job for us. But we differ from many committees in that we also rely heavily on a number of scientists and engineers who have foregone work in their academic fields to focus on the legislative process as it relates to science and technology, and, in particular, their fields of study. They bring a perspective and understanding to policy-making that is invaluable.
 
I simply can’t say enough about the staff’s talent, insight and institutional knowledge. Their hard work has made the Science Committee more productive, and it has made me a better chairman.
 
Mr/Madam Speaker, I am proud that, in the two terms I’ve had the privilege to lead the Science and Technology Committee, the Committee has had 151 bills and resolutions pass the House, all with bipartisan support. But there is nothing I am prouder of than America COMPETES Act. There is nothing that will have deeper, longer lasting, and more positive impacts for our nation than this bill.
 
I cannot think of anything I would rather be doing, for what is likely my final act on this House Floor after 26 years of service, than sending this bill to the president’s desk. 
 
It’s personally important to me, because I love my 9-year-old daughter.
If we do not want our children and grandchildren to inherit a national standard of living less than that of their parents—a reversal of the American dream—we need to support research, foster innovation, and improve education. 
 
The business community has urged us to pass this bill to support research, foster innovation, and improve education.
 
The academic community has urged us to pass this bill to support research, foster innovation, and improve education.
 
The scientific community has urged us to pass this bill to support research, foster innovation, and improve education.
 
And every one of our colleagues in the Senate has agreed that this bill needs to be sent to the President’s desk so the U.S. can support research, foster innovation, and improve education and create 21st century jobs. 
 
I urge my colleagues to stand with the business community, the academic community, and the scientific community to send a strong message that the U.S. must maintain its scientific and economic leadership.
 
And with that reserve the balance of my time.


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Bart Gordon, Chairman
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