Washington, D.C. – House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) today delivered the following remarks at a press conference with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and members of House Leadership and High-Tech Working Group announcing the Republican high-tech agenda for 2006: I’m very pleased to join my colleagues this afternoon in announcing this Goodlatte/Smith high tech bill package.  This package is a fine complement to the spending and programmatic aspects of the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative, but, we all agree, it is no substitute for them.

Implementation of that Initiative falls primarily to the Science Committee and to the Appropriations Committee, and we are working together to see it through to fruition.  Both Chairman Frank Wolf and Chairman David Hobson are longtime supporters of the budget increases called for in the American Competitiveness Initiative, and we have all redoubled our efforts since the President’s State of the Union message to ensure that the nation invests adequately in the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In addition, as I noted at our budget hearings last month, the Science Committee is developing legislation that will help carry out the President’s Initiatives and the recommendations of the National Academy’s Gathering Storm report, which was a primary inspiration for those Initiatives. 

While we are still doing our “homework” and examining our options, legislation could include authorizing the 10-year investment plan proposed by the President, setting aside funds for transformational research and young researchers, and directing some research funds to topics of national priority, including energy research. 

The Committee will certainly develop legislation to increase the nation’s focus on science and math education at the K-12 and undergraduate levels and to bolster education programs within our agencies.

In developing our bills, we are acting deliberately, reviewing the recommendations of numerous reports as well as the bills that have been introduced already in the House and Senate.  We want to make sure that we come up with a targeted, affordable set of real solutions, not a laundry list of buzzwords. 

To assist in that, we have some hearings scheduled this month, including one next week on the proposal to create a new research entity in the Department of Energy, which would be known as ARPA-E.  We have a lot of questions about how effective such an agency could be.  And we have a hearing at the end of the month to bring together most of the federal agencies involved in science and math education to see how the federal government could have a better coordinated, higher quality, more effective suite of education programs at the K-12 level. 

So we’ve got our work cut out for us, but we will make progress, and I would expect to report out bills no later than the end of May.  In the meantime, we’ll be continuing to work closely with our friends on Appropriations behind the scenes.

There truly is no more important task before the Congress than ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the United States.  We have to act now or we will pay later.  We will not be able to maintain our levels of prosperity or employment over the long term if we do not have the best educated, most innovative population on the planet.  The competition is catching up.  It’s no time to rest on our laurels.  Thank you.