Weber Opening Statement at Full Committee Markup of DOE Science for the Future Act
Thank you, Chairwoman Johnson. And thank you to Chairman Bowman, and Ranking Member Lucas, as well, for all your hard work to get us here today. I’ll try not to repeat the many praises we’ve heard thus far for this legislation, even though many of those praises are certainly worth repeating.
Let me start by expressing my gratitude to everyone involved on this Committee for just how far we’ve come. Since I was first appointed Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee in 2015, I worked on the America COMPETES Reauthorization process which provided important program direction for the Office of Science.
Since then, we’ve had a number of landmark successes in updating this guidance, first through the enactment of the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act in 2018, and most recently we were able to authorize pieces of the Office last Congress in the Energy Act of 2020. Yet after all these years and all this incredible bipartisan work, we’ve never had a comprehensive Office of Science reauthorization like the DOE Science for the Future Act.
Over this time period, we’ve seen the tenant of the White House change twice, countless Members come and go, and even the controlling majority of this body change. But through it all, Ranking Member Lucas, Chairwoman Johnson, and many others, including myself, have remained committed to keeping America’s scientific enterprise at the forefront of global competition.
My colleagues have heard me repeatedly stress the importance of basic research. They’ve also heard me grumble and complain when I thought we were focusing too much on applied energy and increasing its already significant portion of DOE’s budget. I might sound like a broken record, but it’s because I believe so strongly in this.
I like to think that my friends across the aisle and across the political spectrum really took note when, within a year of Ranking Member Lucas’ leadership, the Republican side of this Committee put forth our benchmark legislation, the Securing America Leadership in Science and Technology Act (SALSTA).
We put forth SALSTA as a signal that even in the minority, we are serious about the DOE Office of Science and its role in developing climate change solutions and advancing American competitiveness. And because of the comprehensive nature of SALSTA and its clear focus on federal basic research, I fully believe my Democrat colleagues recognized our effort as the start of a tremendous bipartisan opportunity.
Because that is what the legislative process entails. It’s giving and taking, hearing many opinions inside and outside of these walls, disagreeing over some things, and finding common ground on more things.
As a result, today marks the culmination of more than a decade of hard work. The legislation before us today is the first-ever comprehensive reauthorization for the DOE Office of Science. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
Some of the main pillars of this bill are funding construction and upgrades to major scientific user facilities, providing guidance in emerging research areas like quantum, and responsibly increasing the annual budget for each of the Office’s core research programs.
All of it is meant to put our full muscle behind the Office of Science. That is because time and time again, this office has demonstrated that basic science research is the most effective way to encourage the development of new technologies.
If we want to maintain our technology edge and combat the threat countries like China are making towards our global leadership in innovation, this bill isn’t just a recommendation or message – it’s a necessity.
Through the DOE Science for the Future Act, we are prioritizing critical research areas and investing in the science and technology that will drive the development of cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable energy.
It wasn’t the most direct path, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but we’re finally approaching the finish line. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues as we take this bill to the floor and on to the President’s desk.
Thank you Madam Chairwoman and I yield back the balance of my time.