|Fattah Statement at Subcommittee Markup of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill for FY2012|
WASHINGTON, DC- Chaka Fattah, Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee delivered the following statement during Subcommittee Markup of the FY2012 Appropriations bill:
"Our country is at a crossroads. It is the wealthiest country in the world, the only superpower, and our country holds numerous advantages in science, technology, and innovation. However, advantages that used to be absolute are now relative.
"We are no longer just shadowboxing with ourselves, but now have a number of foreign economic competitors in the ring who are trying to gain an advantage and overtake us. They are investing in a broad array of areas including: space exploration, scientific discovery, infrastructure, and new energy sources. This bill is about more than just spending. It is about our overall commitment to be the leader in space, science, technology and innovation, and this bill essentially touches upon a lot of different areas affecting our country.
"The one thing I would not change about this bill is the process. Chairman Wolf has involved us at every level of deliberation. I want to thank him and his staff, and I also want to thank my subcommittee staff and personal staff for their work on this bill.
"The fundamental challenge with the bill is the allocation, which is deficient in significant respects. The allocation is $50.2 billion, a cut of $3.1 billion, or 5.8 percent, below the fiscal year 2011 level, and $7.4 billion, or 12.9 percent, below the request. Because of that allocation, the majority has had to make a number of difficult decisions. If we had the same allocation in the majority, we would also have had to make very difficult decisions. And while we would have made different decisions in some respects, we would still have fallen short of meeting the nation's needs in a number of areas.
"Let me start by talking about areas where the majority has moved the ball in the right direction down the field. The investment which we started in the year-long CR for fiscal year 2011 for the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships program, increasing it to the highest level ever, is continued in this bill.
"We are also investing in a new program authorized in the America COMPETES Act to provide loans for small manufacturers to invest in technology. I think this is critically important even though it is a very limited appropriation. As I have said from the beginning, manufacturing is my number one priority relative to the bill. This loan program and the chairman's re-shoring initiative in the bill are very important efforts. We have 11 million Americans working in manufacturing today. We need to retain those jobs and increase the number of such jobs as we go forward.
"Moreover, we must focus on ensuring that manufacturers and American businesses in general can market and sell their products all over the world. Therefore I applaud that the bill provides the full request for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
"I would also like to point out some of the positives for the Department of Justice. The bill protects Office on Violence Against Women programs, which are level funded overall when excluding management and administration funding. And the bill continues a strong investment in youth mentoring programs.
"In addition, the bill provides the full request for the FBI, one of the few accounts in the bill that are fully funded. I agree with the Chairman that the FBI's role in combating terrorism and crime must be the bill's highest priority.
"I would also like to note that this bill provides level funding for the National Science Foundation.
"There are a number of areas in the bill we should try to improve. We should find additional resources for the Economic Development Agency, which is an important factor in our efforts to improve our export opportunities.
"For the Department of Justice, State and Local grant programs are cut by more than $1 billion, or 38 percent compared to fiscal year 2011. These grant cuts represent more than one third of the cuts in the entire bill, even though grants made up only 4.6 percent of the bill for fiscal year 2011. And the bill entirely eliminates funding for the COPS office, including all funding for the COPS hiring program, the Secure our Schools program and COPS training and technical assistance activities.
"At NASA, we should find additional resources for Space Technology, which is a new account in the bill but not a new activity for NASA, and is critically important to the future of space travel. And while the funding in the bill for Commercial Crew is an important statement about the committee's support and belief in the ability of American enterprises to provide regular transportation back and forth to the space station and low Earth orbit, it is funded well below the authorized level. In addition, I am disappointed that no funding has been provided for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope is designed to be 100 times more powerful than Hubble, and will look back to the first glows after the Big Bang. I am hopeful that we can restore this funding as the process moves forward.
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is cut by $103 million below the current level and $1 billion below the request. These cuts will have harmful effects on NOAA's weather satellite development, environmental protection efforts, ocean and atmospheric research, and many other efforts important to the economy and to public safety.
"The Legal Services Corporation takes a disproportionate hit to its funding, with a cut of $105 million, or nearly 26 percent. This means that 235,000 fewer people will be able to receive legal services next year, and with three out of four users of legal services being women and children, these cuts will fall predominately on some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
"Most importantly, is the National Science Foundation. I think we should embark on an effort to double the funding for NSF over a short number of years. It is critically important, as we see other countries investing in science, that we not lose our appetite for leading the world in scientific discovery, and we must be willing to make the investment. When a country as small as Singapore, with a population of 5 million has committed to investing $5 billion in research and development over just a few years, this is a clear signal that we need to step up our game. We must think about where we want to be as a nation and what we want to invest in. One of those investment areas should be neuroscience.
"There are improvements to be made, but I think the bill Chairman Wolf, put together within the allocation is a point at which we can begin this process. I want to thank the Chairman for his work and his efforts in this regard."