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House Science Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Respond to State of the Union Address

Richard M. Jones
Number 9 - January 28, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have given some initial indications of the likely response of the committee and Congress to the science and technology proposals in President Obama’s State of the Union.  Both issued statements following the address. 

The President highlighted science and technology in his State of the Union last year and in his address on Tuesday night. A front-page article in last Sunday’s Washington Post discussed efforts by interest groups to get just a “moment” in the State of the Union.  It is significant that the President devoted more than 350 words to science and technology, as well as many more words to clean energy and educational reform in his address to Congress and the nation.

It is to be expected that House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) would be more critical of Obama’s address, and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) more supportive.  Selections from each of their statements follow:

Chairman Hall:

“Tonight the President focused on ‘America winning,’ by leading the world in innovation.  But leading the world in innovation must start with a strategy that fosters private investment and economic growth.  Too many of this administration’s policies have been detrimental to business and to keeping jobs in the U.S.   

“The American people have been clear that they want us to work together to shrink the reach of the Federal Government, and to give entrepreneurs an environment in which to invest and grow by lowering taxes, limiting burdensome and costly regulations, cutting spending, and reducing our Nation’s debt.  While appropriate investments in science and technology are important, they must be made prudently within the confines of a disciplined budget.  

“While much of the President’s rhetoric on energy is commendable, it too stands at odds with this administration’s actions in some of the most important areas.  From blocking energy exploration and production to the EPA’s unjustified assaults on U.S. industry, the President’s policies are making energy less abundant and less affordable, which in turn makes America less competitive.  These are job-killing policies, and my home state of Texas is at the center of this storm. 

“I welcome the President's attention to the importance of basic research, as it is critical to driving innovation and economic growth. However, the President went on to say that we must focus our efforts on ‘clean energy technologies,’ which suggests an emphasis not on basic research, but on commercialization. These are activities often best left to the private sector.”

Hall criticized the Administration’s policy on Yucca Mountain and for not “promoting a strong vision for the future of space exploration.”  Looking ahead to the committee’s activities, Hall said:

“In the 112th Congress, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee will conduct oversight of these policies, as well as the broader research and development priorities necessary to advance American competitiveness.  If we are to continue to lead the world in innovation, we must invest wisely, and put a stop to Democrats’ job-destroying spending.”

Ranking Member Johnson:

“I applaud the President’s ongoing commitment to investments in innovation as a key to our nation’s competitiveness.  While we need to get serious about reducing our deficit, our nation’s long-term economic prosperity depends on the investments in research, technology, and education that we make now. One need only look at the benefits our nation has gained from past investments in such areas as energy, information technologies, environmental research, and our civil space and aeronautics programs to realize that these are investments with a guaranteed return -- and we must not shrink from making them if we are to ensure a better future for our children.  In addition to supporting research, we must empower scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to turn R&D into new technologies, new businesses, and new jobs. 

“As the President mentioned, this is particularly true in the area of clean energy.  In order to support our energy independence and security, we must boost our commitment to clean energy research and the development of new clean energy technologies.  It is also critical that we continue to reinvent the way government fosters innovation and encourages growth in clean energy technologies through programs such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E).

“At the same time, we must invest in education, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, to ensure that our children develop the skills necessary to compete for the jobs of the future. . . . ”

“As the President said, ‘We do big things.’  However we must work hard if we want to continue to do big things in this country and remain the most innovative and sustainable economy in the world.  I look forward continuing to work with the Administration and with my colleagues on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee to achieve our common goal of securing our global technological leadership and economic competitiveness.”

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics