Chairman Wolf Prepared Opening Remarks on FY12 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill Before Subcommittee
July 7, 2011 -
"Today, the Subcommittee will mark up the fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The recommendation we bring to the Subcommittee contains $50.2 billion in discretionary spending. This level represents a reduction of 6 percent below the current fiscal year and 13 percent below the President’s request. In fact, the recommendation is even 3 percent below the pre-Stimulus fiscal year 2008 spending level.
"To identify these savings, the subcommittee exercised robust oversight, including nearly 20 hearings between February and May. These included hearings with the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Commerce Department, NASA and the National Science Foundation.
"There are a number of areas in this bill that, under different circumstances, I would have preferred to fund at different levels. However, the House-passed Budget Resolution established our allocation and accordingly this subcommittee produced a strong bill with strategic investments in national security, job creation and science, despite the limited allocation.
"We have reached a tipping point in our country's financial future. Our nation is pushed to the edge of a fiscal cliff. We are over $14 trillion in debt. CBO projects that the President's budget request would cause net interest payments to skyrocket over the next 10 years -- from $260 billion in 2012 to $931 billion in 2021.
"In the absence of a comprehensive plan to rein in entitlements and our crushing debt, we are forced to focus only on non-security discretionary spending to achieve savings -- which is only 12 percent of the overall budget request. There is never a convenient time to make tough decisions, but the longer we put off fixing the problem, the worse the medicine will be.
"In the meantime, I believe this Subcommittee mark achieves the required spending reduction goals while at the same time investing in core priorities, like national security and American competitiveness.
"I am pleased to describe some of the highlights of the bill for you today. But first, I want to mention the Ranking Member, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fattah. He has been a good partner throughout our intensive hearing schedule. I also want to acknowledge the rest of the Subcommittee members as well. Thank you for your contributions. I want to recognize the subcommittee staff, including our clerk Mike Ringer, Leslie Albright, Stephanie Myers, Diana Simpson, Colin Samples and Scott Sammis – as well as the minority staff, Darek Newby and Bob Bonner. Finally, I would also like to thank our Committee Chairman, Mr. Rogers, and the Committee Ranking Member, Mr. Dicks.
"In Commerce, this bill contains critical investments in export promotion, manufacturing and contains a number of new job creation initiatives. Notably, the bill directs Commerce to develop a program to help states compete for manufacturing and call center jobs against foreign competitors.
"For NIST, the bill includes $701 million, including an increase of $10 million for research. The bill also includes $128.4 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program
"We have fully funded the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and have also included funding for new staff focused on dealing with China
"The bill includes $2.7 billion for the Patent and Trademark Office -- the full estimate of fee collections for FY12 -- and a 28 percent increase above FY11. Should PTO collect additional fees above the amount appropriated, the bill makes that excess available to PTO.
"In NOAA, this bill includes the necessary funding to better protect Americans from natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes and tsunamis. It fully funds the National Weather Service, and includes an increase of $429.5 million for the JPSS satellite program.
"Despite a 6 percent lower allocation than in fiscal year 2011, this bill increases funding for research accounts at NIST and NSF. Investments in scientific research are critical to long-term economic growth and job creation.
"The bill includes $6.9 billion for the National Science Foundation, including an increase of $43 million above FY11 for basic research, while addressing concerns about contracting and grant management.
"The bill also includes over $1 billion for science education programs.
"In NASA, the bill provides funding above the request for America’s next generation exploration system -- the crew vehicle and heavy-lift rocket -- while continuing funding for the developing commercial cargo and crew program.
"I am also pleased to note that the bill also includes $570 million -- which is $1 million above the request -- for aeronautics research.
"As countries like China attempt to challenge U.S. leadership in space, we need a similar sense of mission to guide NASA going forward.
"The United States needs a reality check on China. You may have seen the red carpet treatment the president of China provided to the president of Sudan, an indicted war criminal. China also is aggressively spying on our country, including stealing the very technology needed for a space program. We cannot cede the space frontier to the Chinese.
"That is why this bill includes funding for the Inspector General to commission a comprehensive independent assessment of NASA’s strategic direction and agency management to help chart a future course for the agency that is bold and achievable.
"In the Justice Department, the bill includes the full request, $8.1 billion, for the FBI to protect the Nation from terrorism, while continuing to fight crimes such as child exploitation, and gang violence – as well as program increases of $131 million for improvements in surveillance, terrorist screening and weapons of mass destruction response.
"The bill also focuses funding on fighting gangs and gang violence. We have included a $9 million program increase for FBI-led anti-gang task forces.
"Additionally, the bill maintains or increases funding for the other federal law enforcement agencies – DEA, ATF, and Marshals Service – as well as the Bureau of Prisons.
"In this austere budget climate, we have had to make some tough choices in order to preserve at a freeze level the funding for core Federal law enforcement functions.
"Despite the reduction, the bill prioritizes the remaining funds to proven, highest priority programs, including violence against women programs; Justice Assistance Grants, and missing and exploited children programs.
"The bill represents our best take on matching needs with scarce resources. I am pleased that it makes critical investments in national security, job creation and the sciences."