Basic Research Spurs American Innovation

America’s economic strength and national security depend on innovation.  Since our founding, scientists and innovators have played a critical role in promoting growth and prosperity. Both public and private investments in research and development (R&D) fuel the economy, create jobs and lead to new technologies that benefit Americans’ daily lives. But to remain a world leader, we must ensure that our investments are funding the best science.

Businesses invest hundreds of billions of dollars each year to convert federally-supported research into high-tech inventions, new products and millions of jobs. We depend on taxpayer-financed research to fuel scientific breakthroughs.  Basic research paved the way for the creation of the Internet, enhanced natural gas extraction, lasers and countless innovations that touch every aspect of modern life.

But in order to effectively pursue breakthroughs that will create jobs and fuel the economy, we need to set priorities. After all, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.  And there are not enough taxpayers’ dollars to fund everything.

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, legislation I introduced that the House will consider today, sets priorities aimed at stimulating economic competitiveness and growth.  Our bill increases funding for the physical sciences and biology, from which come most of the scientific breakthroughs with the potential to stimulate new industries and jobs. Funding is cut for lower priority areas, including social and behavioral science, redundant climate research, and subsidies for private companies.

The National Science Found has approved grants to study human-set fires in New Zealand, pasture management in Mongolia, and basket-weaving techniques in Alaska. But taxpayers’ dollars should be focused on national priorities. The progress of science in the United States as well as our future economic and national security depends on making smart investments in science and prioritizing research.

The America COMPETES Act sets priorities for research funding in areas that will provide meaningful returns to hardworking American taxpayers. Too many important research subjects go underfunded: nuclear energy research that could revolutionize the energy industry, interdisciplinary research to understand how the brain works, or research to advance the next generation of fast computing.

To focus on scientific research that could boost economic competitiveness and growth is a good investment and the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.

— Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

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