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H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010

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Washington, May 12, 2010 | comments

May 12, 2010


H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010

Rep. Gordon (D-TN) and 101 Cosponsors


House Republicans strongly support basic research and development and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.  These policies, together with a broader economic policy that includes lower taxes, adherence to market principles, streamlined Federal regulation, and reduction of the budget deficit and national debt, form the policy basis of what is necessary for the country to truly remain competitive into the future.  We support reasonable measures to advance science research and development; however, H.R. 5116 goes beyond the basic goals of the original COMPETES Act by creating excessive spending levels, numerous new and unnecessary or duplicative programs, and a policy shift away from the focus on innovation-enabling basic research that formed the cornerstone of the original America COMPETES Act and the National Academies’ Rising Above the Gathering Storm report from which it evolved.


We have significant concerns with the cost of the bill.  The overall authorization levels are $86 billion—$22 billion in new funding above the fiscal year 2010 base, and almost $8 billion above the ten-year doubling path for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and National Institute of Standards and Technology that was established in the original House-passed COMPETES bill.  This is in addition to $5 billion these agencies received in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Given that our nation’s debt is currently $13 trillion and our nation’s budget deficit has increased 50 percent in three years, these numbers are truly unsustainable.

The bill creates seven new programs, including Energy Innovation Hubs at the Department of Energy, a Loan Guarantee Program at the Department of Commerce, a Regional Innovation Clusters Program at the Department of Commerce, and an Innovative Services Initiative at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.  Several of these new programs fund activities well beyond research and development, and many are potentially duplicative of currently funded efforts.  The eligible activities and entities associated with the Loan Guarantees and the Innovation Clusters are vaguely defined, and thus particularly vulnerable to potentially inappropriate or duplicative activities.  House Republicans believe that adding new, redundant programs causes inefficiency in our research investments and runs counter to the purpose of the COMPETES Act.  Moreover, technology commercialization activities in the bill could divert money away from basic research and lead to inappropriate market intervention, resulting in the government picking “winners and losers.”


The increased authorization length from three to five years also limits oversight opportunities and calls for extensive out-year funding increases without regard to current and future fiscal concerns.


We remain committed to basic research and development and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through targeted legislation that takes into full account the country’s current fiscal situation and outlook.  Unfortunately, H.R. 5116 does not meet these criteria.


For these reasons, House Republicans oppose this bill.

Provided by the Republican Leadership and the Committee on Science and Technology Republicans.

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Distributed by the Office of the Speaker