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Chairman Wolf Floor Statement on FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill


Washington, May 8 -

I am pleased to begin the consideration of H.R. 5326, making appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. The bill provides funding for programs whose impacts range from the safety of people in their homes and communities to the farthest reaches of space.

The bill before the House today reflects a delicate balancing of needs and requirements. We have drafted what I consider to be a responsible bill for FY 2013 spending levels for the departments and agencies under the subcommittee's jurisdiction. We've had to carefully prioritize the funding in this bill and have had to make hard choices about how to spend scarce revenue.

I want to thank Chairman Rogers for supporting us with a fair allocation and in helping us to move the bill forward. I also want to thank the ranking member, Mr. Fattah, who has been an effective and valued partner and colleague, and I am grateful. I appreciate his principled commitment and his understanding of the programs in the bill.

I also would like to thank the members of the subcommittee for their help and assistance, as well as to thank Congressman Norman Dicks, the ranking member of the full committee.

I want to recognize the subcommittee staff, including our clerk, Mike Ringler; Leslie Albright; Stephanie Myers; Diana Simpson; Colin Samples and Scott Sammis; as well as Darek Newby and Bob Bonner from the minority staff, for their work in preparing the bill before us today.

I also want to recognize a number of the majority and minority associate staff members--all of their names and the offices that they are connected with.

Dan Scandling and Thomas Culligan in my office; Michelle Anderson-Lee in Mr. Fattah's office; Robert LaBranche and Ryan Stalnaker in Mr. Culberson's office; Mark Dawson and Megan Medley in Mr. Aderholt's office; Mike Sharp in Mr. Bonner's office; Tyler Grassmeyer, Steven Gilleland and Jessica Talbert in Mr. Austria's office; Jason Lawrence in Mr. Grave's office; Patrick Carroll in Mr. Yoder's office; Megan O'Donnell in Chairman Rogers' office; Jeff Lowenstein and Tim Bergreen in Mr. Schiff's office; Ken Takeda, A.J. Bhadelia and Eric Werwa in Mr. Honda's office; Jheanelle Brown and Matt Alpert in Mr. Serrano's office; and Pete Modaff and Colin Sheldon in Ranking Member Dicks' office.

The bill totals $51.1 billion in discretionary spending, which is a reduction of 3.1 percent below the current fiscal year and 1.4 percent below the President's request.

Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, the committee has cut $13.2 billion, reducing the total amount of the CJS bill by over 20 percent over the 3 fiscal years. We have focused limited resources on the most critical areas: fighting crime and terrorism--including a new focus of preventing and investigating cyberattacks--and boosting U.S. competitiveness and job creation by investing in science, exports, and manufacturing.

For the Department of Commerce, the bill includes $7.7 billion, an increase of $96 million above FY12. The bill makes critical investments in manufacturing, export promotion, and job creation, including a task force and an EDA grant program to incentivize U.S. companies to bring their manufacturing and services activities back to the United States, particularly back to the U.S. from China.

 For NIST, the bill includes $830 million, including $128 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, MEP, program and $21 million for an advanced manufacturing competitive research program to make the American manufacturing sector a source of job growth.

The bill also makes critical investments in weather forecasting and disaster preparedness to save lives and protect property, including funding above the President's request for the National Weather Service operations and for tsunami preparedness. Also included is an increase of $126 million for the weather satellite acquisitions, including the full amount requested for the new JPSS satellite. This funding is necessary to better protect Americans from natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, and tsunamis, just like we've seen in the Midwest this year, Kansas, Alabama, and places like that this year. It is also with regard to snowstorms and drought.

A primary area of focus in the bill this year is scientific research, innovation, and competitiveness. Investments in scientific research are key to long-term economic growth and job creation. The bill includes $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $299 million, or 4.3 percent above FY12, for basic research and science education. This funding will go toward the types of research that will keep America's economy strong by setting the groundwork for the development of new technologies.

Developing a well-educated STEM workforce is also critical to America's competitiveness. More than $1 billion is provided throughout the bill for science education, including $876 million for NSF to improve the quality of science education.

NASA. The bill includes $17.6 billion, including funding above the aggregate request, to keep the development schedule for the Orion crew vehicle and heavy-lift rocket. Commercial crew development is funded at $500 million, consistent with the current authorization and the report accompanying the House budget resolution.

To find the fastest, safest, and most cost-effective means of achieving a U.S. capability for access to the international space station, the bill directs NASA to winnow the commercial partners and advance the schedule for moving to traditional government procurement methods. Continuing on the current path runs a high risk of failure by one or more companies receiving government subsidies, similar to what we last saw last year with Solyndra, and leaving the taxpayer with no tangible benefits in exchange for a substantial investment. We do not need a space Solyndra. I say this to Members on both sides of the aisle. We have heard Solyndra thrown around. We do not need a space Solyndra.

We have received letters from Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and James Lovell endorsing the committee's approach to commercial crew as ``reasonable and appropriate.''

According to the GAO, we have invested $100 billion in the station, so we need to develop our own capability to get our astronauts up there to use it quickly rather than relying on the Russians and paying the Russians.

The bill also includes $570 million--which is $18.4 million above the request--for aeronautics research. Aerospace is a pillar of the American manufacturing sector and one of the leading exports. This is an industry that creates thousands of jobs in America. This investment will boost our aviation competitiveness so America continues to be number one.

The bill includes $5.1 billion for NASA science programs, including $1.4 billion for planetary science. This amount restores cuts in the President's request that would have inhibited progress on all planetary science goals, including flagship missions to Mars and Europa.

For the Department of Justice, the bill includes $27.1 billion, $11 million above the current level. The top mission priority of the Justice Department is defending national security from both internal and external threats. The bill includes $8.3 billion, an increase of $148 million, for the FBI, including an increase of $23 million to prevent and combat cyberintrusions. Director Mueller has predicted that cyber will soon overtake terrorism as the Bureau's number one threat. The increase will be the first step in building a nationwide capability for cyberinvestigations that complements the other cyberinitiatives under consideration in the House.

The bill restores funding for the National Gang Intelligence Center, which the President wanted to terminate. Every district in this country has violent gangs running throughout your districts, such as MS 13 and many other groups. If you've been down along the border, you will see many of the gangs in Mexico have operations up here. To shut that down and terminate it, this is a major threat to the country. It also provides an additional funding for FBI's Safe Streets Task Forces. Now is not the time to retreat in an effort to combat the growing gang problem, not only on the border but throughout the country.

Bureau of Prison operations are funded at the requested level of $6.8 billion, an increase of $269 million above FY12, to activate newly constructed prisons and ensure safe and secure Federal prison facilities in light of, unfortunately, continued population growth.

This bill includes $1.85 billion for justice programs that provide grants for States, localities, and nonprofits. Despite the reduction, the bill prioritizes proven high-priority programs, including justice assistance grants, SCAAP.

The administration was at $70 million on SCAAP. We're at $165 million. It also includes funding for missing and exploited children programs and DNA grants. nThe bill includes funding for prescription drug monitoring grants. And I want to give a lot of credit to Chairman Rogers for his effort here. It also includes a significant increase in DEA's Tactical Diversion Squads to address our Nation's fastest growing drug problem: prescription drug abuse.

The funding for violence against women and for victims of trafficking is increased above the current level and above the President's request. There's more money in here for violence against women than this administration put.

We recently marked the fifth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. Following this terrible tragedy, Congress passed a bill to improve the National Instant Background Check System, NICS, a critical tool for keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons. But the NICS is only as effective as the State databases on which it relies. This bill includes $12 million to improve NICS records, $7 million more than the 2012 request.

Finally, we're asking the Office of Inspector General to do a follow-up review of the justice task force that looked at cases affected by flawed FBI lab practices in 1990. A new OIG review is a necessary next step to ensure that prosecutors follow through on task force findings and that defendants' rights are upheld. No one should get sentenced to jail for life when we know there is information that has not been shared. So we've had the OIG review and take a look at this.

In closing, that is a summary of the bill before us today. It provides increases where needed to maintain and strengthen operations of critical law enforcement. It carries on the fight against terrorism, crime, and drugs and provides important increases to boost scientific research, innovation, and competitiveness. It provides strong support for all the various NASA missions. It represents our best take on matching needs with scarce resources.

We have tried hard to produce the best bill we possibly could within the resources we had, and I would hope that all Members would support the bill.

Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.