Mr. Chairman:

I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I am proud to bring to the floor today, H.R. 4664, “the Investing in America’s Future Act,” which was approved unanimously by the Science Committee. This landmark bill would put the National Science Foundation (NSF) on a track to double its budget over the next five years, while at the same time imposing strict, new management requirements to ensure that NSF continues to spend our money wisely.

This Congress has already demonstrated its faith in, and reliance on the National Science Foundation several times in recent months, and I hope and expect that we will continue to do so today. Earlier this year, by the overwhelming margin of 400-12, we passed a cybersecurity bill that relied on NSF to fund the research needed to protect our nation’s computer systems and networks. At this time last year, we passed by voice vote a bill to initiate the President’s math and science education partnerships – a program that NSF is now beginning to carry out. And we’ve passed appropriations bills that have included generous – if still insufficient – increases for NSF.

So the 107th Congress is already on record as acknowledging the vital role played by NSF in both research and education, and we’ve already recognized the Foundation’s need for additional funds. Today, we take the logical next step.

The scale of NSF’s budget tod12s simply not commensurate with the breadth and importance of its mission. Congress reached that same conclusion about the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and we have followed through by doubling that research agency’s budget. But health research is not the only kind of research on which our nation depends, and indeed even health research itself depends on advances outside of biomedicine – the kinds of advances that produce new research tools and new understandings of chemistry and physics.

So, it’s time to give NSF – a much smaller agency than NIH – a budget commensurate with its mission. When we look at the new fields of science and engineering that will boost our economy in this new century, fields like nanotechnology, where do we turn to ensure that our nation’s researchers stay at the cutting edge?Ê NSF. When we look at the field of information technology, which facilitates every activity in today’s economy, where do we turn to ensure that the U.S. remains at the cutting edge?Ê NSF. When we consider our ever more urgent need for a highly skilled, technologically literate workforce, where do we turn to ensure that our education system from kindergarten through post-graduate work is preparing the people we need?Ê NSF.

We turn to NSF to solve some of our most pressing problems; we can’t turn from NSF when we decide where to invest federal funds.

It’s time to give NSF the money it needs.

But don’t take my word for it. Don’t even take the word of all the university and research groups that have endorsed this bill; they’re the obvious beneficiaries.

Instead, listen to the major industrial entities that are backing this bill, groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, the Semiconductor Industry Association and Technet. They understand that federally funded basic research – research which industry has little incentive to fund – is needed to keep the American economy humming.

But some may still wonder, despite this support for raising NSF’s budget, whether the agency can handle such a significant increase. I would argue that there is no agency better placed to handle it. NSF is a lean agency that spends little of its budget on administration. It is the only agency in the entire federal government that received a “green light” rating from the Office of Management and Budget for the quality of its operations. It is repeatedly cited as a model of how federal agencies should be run.

But despite NSF’s stellar record, this bill will not allow the agency to rest on its laurels. The bill imposes several new management requirements to ensure that federal taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. There is a new report NSF must submit to Congress explaining how it decided to allocate its funding. There is a new requirement to ensure that the public has greater access to National Science Board meetings. There is a new joint NSF-NASA advisory committee on astronomy research.

Most importantly, there is a new process to prioritize major research equipment projects and to manage them more consistently. Right now, there is no way for anyone outside the Foundation to understand how these large projects, like new telescopes and research stations, are selected or ranked.

Under our bill, the Director and the Board will have to agree on a list of projects in priority order that will be submitted to the Congress. Actual budget proposals may still have to depart from that order, but at least we will all be starting with the same information in evaluating such budget proposals.

Mr. Chairman, this is a responsible bill, it is a needed bill, it is a bill that has garnered widespread support in Committee and outside this Chamber — and it deserves support from all of us today. In passing this bill, we do nothing more – and nothing less – than reaffirm some basic principles: that being the world leader in research is important to our nation’s health, defense and economic well-being; that improving science and math education is critically important; that a great nation should not skimp on its investments to improve human understanding of natural phenomena.

It is through NSF that we turn those principles into actions. To paraphrase Daniel Webster, it is a small agency, but there are those of us who love it. I urge support for this bill.