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

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Publication date: 
28 January 2011

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.”