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Shaheen Remarks As Prepared for Delivery Ahead of Hearing on Bolstering U.S. Global Competitiveness through Increased Investments in Research & Development

Shaheen is Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies – will hold a hearing on fiscal year (FY2022) funding priorities for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and discuss its role in securing U.S. competitiveness. Witnesses will include NSF Director Sethuramen Panchanathan.

Through her leadership on the CJS Appropriations subcommittee, Shaheen has long been a strong advocate for scientific research funding priorities. In last year’s spending agreement, Shaheen spearheaded efforts to prioritize agencies that conduct research, including the NSF. The research this agency conducts promotes economic prosperity and often leads to breakthroughs that improve quality of life for Americans, including in understanding and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. New Hampshire institutions are regularly awarded NSF grants for investments in climate change research, STEM education, space exploration and more.  Shaheen also led efforts to include $600 million to the NSF to support research impacted by the pandemic as part of the American Rescue Plan.

The hearing will be live streamed here at 2PM.

Below are Senator Shaheen’s Opening Remarks As Prepared for Delivery:

The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will come to order.

Good morning, Director Panchanathan. Thank you for being here today.  You have the honor of being the witness for the first budget hearing before this subcommittee this year.  This is also the first time that I am serving as Chair of the CJS subcommittee in a public setting.

Today the Committee will consider the fiscal year 2022 budget request of the National Science Foundation and discuss the agency’s role in securing U.S. competitiveness.  I think it’s appropriate that we’re starting this year’s budget hearings with the National Science Foundation since the agency plays such an instrumental role in our country’s economic success.

Much of our nation’s global leadership and economic prosperity over the 20th century and early 21st century stems from innovation rooted in scientific discovery.  This would not have been possible without significant public investment in research and development (R&D). 

Federal R&D helped drive the Space Race in the 1960s, the development of the internet and GPS in the ‘70s and ‘80s and the mapping of the human genome in the ’90s and early ‘00s. 

Without investment of significant taxpayer resources these milestones—and importantly all the industries and innovations that resulted—would not have occurred.

As a country, we’re now at a crossroads.  Our global competitors, particularly China, are pouring resources into scientific and technological innovation.  If we want to sustain our economic prosperity, global leadership and national security, we cannot afford to be caught flat footed. 

Fortunately, after several years of anemic budget requests for the National Science Foundation under the prior administration that were roundly rejected on a bipartisan basis by this Committee, President Biden has requested $10.2 billion for NSF.  This is an increase of $1.7 billion or 20 percent above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level.

While we only have limited information regarding the fiscal year 2022 budget at this time as we await the release of the full budget later this spring, it is clear that the NSF request would make important investments in research, technology development and education.

The President’s fiscal year 2022 request includes the creation of a new NSF directorate to focus on technology, innovation and partnerships.  This directorate would focus on critical technologies that will define the next several decades, like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and clean energy. 

Further, as part of his infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, the President proposes investing $50 billion in NSF technology and competitiveness projects.  This proposal is similar to bipartisan legislation that will soon be reintroduced in the Senate, the Endless Frontier Act.

I am very pleased that we are talking about making investments in R&D to maintain U.S. competitiveness.  I think these investments are vital to our economic competitiveness and national security. 

However, I believe that we need to be thoughtful in how we proceed.  We should devote resources to successful, existing programs when possible.  Where there are proposals to create new programs, we need to ensure that the agencies tasked are the right ones and that there are no other agencies that are better positioned to carry out the goals, or, indeed, that are already serving this role.  As we push forward to beat our global competitors, we need to ensure that we do not lose what makes NSF special.

To this point, I’m pleased to see that the President’s budget request does not overlook making investments in curiosity-driven, exploratory research that sets the stage for future breakthroughs. 

NSF has a fundamental role in both technology development and basic research.  But no agency is better at nurturing exploratory research than NSF.

The budget request includes $9.4 billion to support fundamental research and related activities at NSF, an increase of $1.6 billion above the fiscal year 2021 level.  This includes a total of $1.2 billion for climate and clean energy research as we work to reduce emissions and create energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs.

As part of these investments in research and development, we must think about how we are training the next generation for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM.  Ensuring that we have a diverse, inclusive workforce ready to lead in STEM is something that I have, and will continue to fight for in the Senate. 

NSF makes critical STEM education investments in States around the country.  Just last year, the University of New Hampshire received $2 million from NSF to support a new, innovative project that aims to strengthen teaching curriculums for STEM subjects.

To that end, I am pleased to see that the budget request includes an increase of $100 million to increase STEM participation within underrepresented groups.

As you can see, we have a lot to discuss.

I’ll now invite my friend, Ranking Member Moran, to provide his opening remarks.