Republicans Critical of President’s FY13 R&D Budget Proposal

Feb 17, 2012
Republicans Critical of President’s FY13 R&D Budget Proposal

Washington D.C. – Today in a hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Republicans expressed a number of concerns to Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s chief science and technology advisor, regarding spending levels and relative prioritization of funding in the Administration’s proposed fiscal year 2013 (FY13) research and development (R&D) budget.

“In his three years of office, President Obama has accumulated more debt than every President from George Washington to Bill Clinton combined, and yet the budget we received earlier this week asks for an additional $3.8 trillion, or 23.3 percent of GDP,” noted Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) “This level of spending is simply not sustainable, and to be perfectly blunt, it’s not creating jobs, growing the economy, or improving the lives of the American taxpayer.”

The President’s proposed FY13 budget includes discretionary funding increases for all agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction, with the exception of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is reduced by $59 million.  The total R&D budget proposal is $140.8 billion across all agencies, representing a $1.9 billion increase over the FY12 enacted level.

“I continue to believe that while it is true that prudent investments in science and technology, including STEM education, will almost certainly yield future economic gains and help create new jobs of the future, it is also true that these gains can be hindered by poor decision-making,” Chairman Hall said.  “Hard-working Americans expect and deserve better.  They expect us to reduce or eliminate those programs that are duplicative and wasteful and examine ways to advance real job creation and economic growth, not just spend their hard-earned money on what the government assumes is best for them.  The budget before us today makes a lot of assumptions about what is best for the American taxpayer.”

Hall criticized budget increases for new and relatively unproven programs and the disproportionate budgetary increases for climate change related research.  Hall said that these funding increases “reduce resources available for higher leverage investments, particularly at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”  Hall continued, “We are drowning in red ink, and we need to better prioritize and direct limited R&D dollars to areas that drive innovation and economic growth.”

With regard to our nation’s space agency, Chairman Hall admonished the 3.2 percent reduction in NASA’s science budget, and notably the disproportionate 20 percent cut to the Planetary Sciences.  Hall further argued that the President’s budget “continues to slow-roll development of a new heavy-lift launch vehicle.”

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 stipulated that the Space Launch System and the Orion crew capsule be used as a back-up capability for supplying and supporting the International Space Station (ISS) crew and cargo requirements.  Instead, NASA is pacing development of these systems to be operational in 2021, which could occur after ISS retirement.  Chairman Hall appealed to Dr. Holdren to accelerate its timetable to ensure we have an alternative method to transport our astronauts and cargo to ISS, as well as the ability to launch missions beyond lower earth orbit.  Hall said that “America’s continued leadership in space, and even our national security, depend in large part on developing and maintaining this critical capability.”

Republican Members criticized a number of policy priorities being pursued by the Obama Administration, including the relatively low funding priority of nuclear energy research supported by the Department of Energy, and U.S. scientific and technological collaboration with China.

The Committee will hold separate hearings to examine the FY13 budget requests of individual agencies within its jurisdiction over the next few weeks.

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