Alexander: Senate Approves Record Funding for Government-Sponsored Research

Says funding research should become part of the president’s “America First” agenda after Senate passes first appropriations bills of this Congress

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that “bipartisan support for government-sponsored research should be part of the president’s ‘America First’ agenda,” after the Republican-led Senate passed the first appropriations bills for the next fiscal year, including the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill from Alexander’s subcommittee.

“I want to suggest that a candidate for the president’s ‘America First’ agenda that has bipartisan support is the record funding for government-sponsored research reflected in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that was passed by the Republican led Senate today with bipartisan support from Democrats,” Alexander said.

The $43.8 billion Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill approved today includes:

  • Fourth year of record funding for our 17 national laboratories and increases funding for supercomputing. The U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic science and energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, is funded at $6.65 billion, a new record funding level.
  • A total of $1.68 billion for high performance computing, including $980 million within the Office of Science and $703 million within the National Nuclear Security Administration. This amount includes $677 million to deliver at least one Exascale machine in 2021 to reassert U.S. leadership in this critical area.
  • $375 million to fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)—record funding in a regular appropriations bill. ARPA-E was created by the 2007 America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies and help bring them to the private sector.  

“Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado came by my office a few weeks ago and said to me: “I was flying over the Middle East, and I looked down, and there were cars everywhere. I thought, well, Henry Ford invented the assembly line. Then it got to be dark, and there were lights everywhere, and I thought, well, Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. We were flying at 30,000 feet, and I thought, the Wright brothers invented the airplane. They are all Americans. I got to thinking that is not all; we have invented the internet, the personal computer, nuclear power, the polio vaccine.’ It is hard to think of a major technological invention since World War II that didn’t have some support from government-sponsored research,” Alexander continued.

“It is important that the American people know that the Republican majority in Congress has worked together with Democrats to provide record levels of funding for science, research, and technology.

“And this bipartisan support for research is not limited to the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee—for example in fiscal year 2018, for the third straight year, the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Blunt and Senator Murray, provided increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and biomedical research—$2 billion additional dollars in the first year, $2 billion the second year, and $2 billion the third year, which is in addition to 21st Century Cures Act funding to focus on the Precision Medicine Initiative, the Cancer Moonshot, and other priorities. Senator Blunt has said that is a 23 percent increase over three years.

Alexander concluded: “So I would say to those who may not have noticed, this Republican Congress, and the Democratic members as well, understand a principal reason we produce 24% of all the worlds dollars for just 5% of the people is the extraordinary concentration of brain power in the United States supported by federal dollars through our national laboratories, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies.”

Alexander leads the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and wrote the bill with the subcommittee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. The Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 86-5. The Senate also passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch appropriations bills.

Click here to view full video of Sen. Alexander’s floor remarks.