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Press Releases :: March 3, 2011

Committee Democrats Decry Proposed Drastic Cuts to Critical DOE Programs

(Washington, DC) –The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to discuss the Administration’s FY 2012 budget request for energy research and technology development programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) with Secretary Steven Chu testifying. 

The President’s FY 2012 request for DOE of $29.5 billion is a $3.1 billion (11.8%) increase over FY 2010 appropriations.  Many of the Department’s key research programs see significant increases.

Echoing the concern of Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) over the national deficit, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) stated, “As any responsible American family would do, we have to reconcile how much money the government spends with what it brings in.”  However, she followed by expressing her deep concern over proposals for radical budget cuts to the nation’s science agencies, such as the Department of Energy, as seen recently in the House-passed H.R. 1. She stated, “We are in danger of jeopardizing our standard of living and our future if we allow good programs to fall victim to indiscriminate cuts.  It is time to set priorities, and make hard choices that do not leave our workforce ill-prepared and hamper the country’s ability to innovate and grow…Our economic woes were not caused by too much science.  At a time like this we need to make the critical investments to bolster our research infrastructure and our future workforce, advancing our technological capabilities now, while sowing the seeds for the industries of the future.”

Describing the impacts of major science and technology budget cuts, Congresswoman Johnson said,  “If the Continuing Resolution (CR) passed by the House two weeks ago were enacted, the Department of Energy’s basic science and energy RD&D portfolios, as well as its extensive network of National Laboratories and world-class facilities, would be devastated. This devastation would cause thousands of research scientists, graduate students, technical and administrative staff, contractors, and others to be laid off or furloughed.  The impact on indirect jobs would be far greater…. At the same time, these cuts would have a very negligible real impact on our national deficit.”

She also expressed alarm about how the CR could impact young scientists, “This is especially worrisome to me because as we all know, the last hired are often the first fired.  Many of the graduate students and early career researchers that our future depends upon will likely be the first to lose their jobs.  This strikes at the heart of a generation ripe with a passion for innovating, young people who are willing to work long nights in labs across the country to find solutions to our nation’s economic, national security, energy, and environmental problems.”

With both the President’s FY 2012 Budget Request and the FY2011 Continuing Resolution still before the Congress, Ranking Member Johnson drew a distinction between the very different futures for U.S. innovation sectors by saying, “We cannot afford to roll back the clock on the economy… In the President’s recent State of the Union address he spoke at length about the need to reinvigorate the American capacity for innovation, and he highlighted the economic opportunity that lies in clean energy technologies.  The FY 2012 request for DOE proposes increases for a number of critical programs, while making some tough but prudent decreases in others. This is a direct illustration of the President’s commitment to a clean energy future, and takes us in the opposite direction of where the CR would leave us.”

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