We all know this Committee has one of the best track records in Congress for passing productive, bipartisan legislation. So I have to say, I am surprised and disappointed that we have been unable to reach a consensus on reauthorizing ARPA-E in a truly bipartisan way, especially given that Republicans have proposed a bill that not only includes similar program reforms but also authorizes a responsible spending increase.
Now, I am optimistic that there are many opportunities for bipartisanship in the future. But as stewards of taxpayer resources, we in Congress must do our job to set realistic priorities and focus our limited federal funds where we can maximize the return on investment.
Unfortunately, the bills we will consider today don’t meet this standard.
H.R. 4091, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act of 2019, includes substantial increases in funding for the program, reaching $1 billion in funding by 2024. If enacted, this bill would authorize a shocking 173 percent increase in spending.
This legislation does include policy reforms that were first proposed in my bipartisan bill last Congress, like expanding ARPA-E’s mission to include a wider range of innovative technologies and requiring the Department to provide annual reports on ARPA-E projects. I support these reforms, and I know we can achieve them without irresponsibly raising spending.
I have spent a number of years working with Chairwoman Johnson and my friends across the aisle to support ARPA-E, and I have worked hard this Congress to bring my Republican colleagues to the table. I am proud of how far we all have come on this issue, and I believe there is a real opportunity here to find common ground.
So I am disappointed to see Science Committee Democrats unwilling to have a realistic and productive conversation on ARPA-E funding this Congress.
However, we still have an opportunity to pass a truly bipartisan ARPA-E bill out of this Committee. My bill, H.R. 3915, the ARPA-E Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2019, includes the same key policy reforms included in this legislation. And it includes a realistic funding profile for the program, authorizing an over $130 million increase in funding over five years, reaching $500 million by 2024.
I want to remind my colleagues that we are proposing an amount that is over $100 million more than was included in Chairwoman Johnson’s ARPA-E authorization bill from last Congress. We are making an effort to find consensus.
I can’t support the bill we are considering today. But as someone who is committed to re-authorizing ARPA-E, I hope that before we consider legislation in the full Committee, we can agree on a compromise approach that actually has a chance of becoming law.