Full Committee Organizational Meeting

Feb 10, 2011 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Opening Statements

Opening Statement
Chairman Ralph M. Hall 

I would like to welcome everyone here today for the organizational meeting of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology for the 112th Congress.  This Committee was permanently established in 1959 as the Committee on Science and Astronautics in response to the Sputnik launch; and while its jurisdiction has grown over the years, space exploration has always remained a central part its mission.  As such, I felt it was appropriate to return the name of the Committee to “Science, Space, and Technology.”

As we organize today, we are mindful not only of the many new faces on the dais who are joining this dynamic Committee, but also of the fact that our esteemed colleague, Gabrielle Giffords, cannot be with us today due to the tragic events of last month.  Our hearts go out to the people killed and injured in the Tucson incident, including members of Gabby’s staff.  I had an opportunity to meet several members of her district staff when I attended a field hearing she hosted on solar energy several years ago.  They are dedicated and a pleasure to work with.  I know that you join me in wishing Gabby a rapid recovery and quick return to our Committee.

The 10 chairmen before me established a lasting legacy of bipartisanship and thoughtful decision making.  It is my hope that we continue in that vein this Congress as we tackle some of our Nation’s most challenging problems.  Whether the issue is energy security, technological innovation, preeminence in space, or advancements in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, this Committee has always looked to the future in hopes of supporting a more competitive nation. 

Today, many Americans worry that our future will not be as bright as our past. Given that our nation is mired in debt, and that entrepreneurs are overburdened with Federal regulations and taxes, I share many of their concerns.  But I am also convinced that we can turn things around and reinvigorate our economy.  Smart investments in research and development, coupled with proper business and tax incentives, can spur innovation and allow American businesses to flourish. 

Americans have always had the opportunity to turn a good idea into a successful business, and because of this, the U.S. has led the world in innovation.  Responsible science and technology policy can help America maintain this leadership.  But we must recognize that increases in Federal spending are not the same as prudent investment, and do not necessarily lead to innovation.  Therefore, we must be diligent in eliminating wasteful, duplicative, and ineffective programs and prioritize our spending in areas of basic research that fuel innovation and not interfere with the marketplace.  I look forward to working with all of you this Congress to find solutions that move America forward.