Chairman Wolf Prepared Statement on FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill at Subcommittee Markup

Apr 19, 2012

Today, the Subcommittee will mark up the fiscal year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. 

The fiscal situation facing the Nation requires significant and difficult spending reductions.  The need for reductions was reflected in the Budget Resolution that passed the House, and in the allocation we have been given pending adoption by the Full Committee. 

There are a number of areas in this bill that, under different circumstances, many would prefer to fund at different levels.  However, the bill in front of the Subcommittee today is a strong bill with strategic investments in national security, job creation and science. 

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 $15.6 trillion in debt. This is our fourth straight year of trillion dollar deficits.  By the end of the decade we could be spending one out of every six dollars just to finance our debt.

If we are to succeed in putting the Nation on secure fiscal footing, we will need to come together and put everything on the table. 

In the meantime, I believe this Subcommittee mark achieves the required spending reduction goals while at the same time it invests in core priorities, like national security and American competitiveness.  

The recommendation we bring to the Subcommittee contains $51.1 billion in discretionary spending. 

This level represents a reduction of 3 percent below the current fiscal year and 1.4 percent below the President’s request.  Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, this Subcommittee has cut $13.2 billion, reducing the total amount of the CJS bill by 20% over three fiscal years.

We have focused limited resources on the most critical areas –fighting crime and terrorism, including a new focus preventing and investigating cyber attacks; and boosting U.S. competitiveness and job creation by investing in science, exports and manufacturing. 

I am pleased to describe some of the highlights for you today.   

For the Department of Commerce, the bill includes $7.7 billion, an increase of $96 million above FY12. 

I am pleased to note that this bill contains critical investments in manufacturing and job creation.  The bill funds a Commerce task force and an EDA grant program to work toward incentivizing U.S. companies to bring their manufacturing and services activities back to the United States. 

For NIST, the bill includes $830 million, including an increase of $54 million for research. The bill also includes $128 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, and $21 million for an Advanced Manufacturing competitive research program, to make the American manufacturing sector a source of job growth.

Funding provided in the bill strongly supports the trade agencies, empowering them to negotiate, verify and enforce trade agreements that are free and fair, and to ensure an even playing field for American businesses.

An efficient patent process is also critical for innovation and economic growth.  The bill includes $2.9 billion for the Patent and Trademark Office -- the full estimate of fee collections for FY13 -- and a 9.5 percent increase above FY12. 

I am also committed to making critical investments in forecasting and disaster preparedness to save lives and protect property.  Some have recently stated that somehow the House Budget Resolution would result in weather forecasts becoming less accurate.

I want to be clear: this bill funds the National Weather Service above the President’s request, restoring risky personnel cuts that the administration proposed to be taken from forecast offices nationwide.

The bill includes an increase of $126 million for Weather Satellite acquisitions, including the full amount requested, $916 million, for the new JPSS satellite program.  This funding is necessary to better protect Americans from natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes and tsunamis.

We all remember the devastation of the tsunami that struck Japan last year.  This bill also rejects the administration’s proposed cuts to NOAA’s tsunami programs, restoring $4.6 million for tsunami mitigation and detection buoys. 

A primary area of focus in the bill this year is scientific research, innovation and competitiveness. 

Despite a reduced allocation, this bill includes significant increases for research accounts at NIST and NSF.  Investments in scientific research are key to long-term economic growth and job creation, and contribute to the security and economic well-being of future generations.

The bill includes $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $299 million, or 4.3%, above FY12 for basic research and science education.  This funding will go toward the types of research that will keep America’s economy strong by setting the groundwork for the development of new technologies.

Developing a well-educated STEM workforce is also critical to American competitiveness.  More than $1 billion is provided throughout the bill for science education, including $876 million for NSF programs such as professional development initiatives for teachers and research-based curricula to improve the quality of science education. 

For NASA, the bill includes $17.6 billion, which provides funding above the aggregate request for America’s next generation exploration system -- the Orion crew vehicle and heavy-lift rocket.  This funding will keep NASA on schedule for upcoming flight milestones.

Commercial Crew development is funded at $500 million, consistent with the current authorization and the report accompanying the House Budget Resolution.  In light of limited budgets and the need to find the fastest, safest and most cost effective means of achieving a U.S. capability for access to the International Space Station, the bill directs NASA to winnow the commercial partners and advance the schedule for moving to traditional government procurement methods.

I am also pleased to note that the bill includes $570 million -- which is $18.4 million above the request -- for aeronautics research. Aerospace is a pillar of the American manufacturing sector and this investment will boost our aviation competitiveness.

The bill includes $5.1 billion for NASA Science programs, including $1.4 billion for Planetary Science.  This amount restores cuts in the President’s request that would have inhibited progress on all planetary science goals, including flagship missions to Mars or Europa.   

For the Department of Justice, the bill includes $27.1 billion, $11 million above the current level. 

The top mission priority of the Justice Department is defending national security from both internal and external threats.  The bill includes $8.3 billion, an increase of $148 million, for the FBI to protect the Nation from terrorism and investigate Federal crimes. 

The bill includes over $40 million for top priority FB program increases including $23 million for investigative, intelligence and technology improvements to prevent and combat cyber intrusions.  The FBI Director has predicted that cyber will soon overtake terrorism as the Bureau’s number one threat.  This increase will give them a head start on building a nationwide system of cyber investigative task forces.

Other increases for the FBI include fighting financial fraud, ensuring adequate surveillance for both criminal and national security investigations, and fighting gang violence.

The bill restores funding for the National Gang Intelligence Center, which the President wanted to terminate, and provides additional funding for FBI’s Safe Streets Task Forces.

Bureau of Prisons operations are funded at the requested level, $6.8 billion, an increase of $269 million above FY12, to activate newly constructed prisons and ensure safe and secure Federal prison facilities in light of continued population growth.

The bill provides small increases for other key Federal law enforcement agencies, including the DEA, ATF and the US Marshals Service. 

The bill includes $1.85 billion for Justice programs that provide grant support to States, localities and non-profits, which is $378 million below FY12.  In this austere budget climate, we have had to make some tough choices in order to preserve sufficient funding for core Federal law enforcement functions.

Despite the reduction, the bill prioritizes proven, high priority programs, including Justice Assistance Grants, SCAAP, missing and exploited children programs, prescription drug monitoring, and DNA grants.  Funding for violence against women and victims of trafficking is increased above the current level and above the President’s request for each program.

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. Following this terrible tragedy, Congress passed a bill to improve the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), a critical tool for keeping firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons.  But NICS is only as effective as the State databases on which it relies. This bill includes $12 million to improve NICS records--$7 million more than the 2012 level and the request. At the present time, only 16 States are eligible for NICS Improvement grants. So in addition to increasing this grant funding, the Committee urges ATF to help States meet the criteria, get grant funding to update their data, and as a result, strengthen the overall nationwide NICS system. 

That is a summary of the recommendation before you today.  Within the allocation we were given, the bill prioritizes funding to help return the Nation to a path of economic recovery, job creation and prosperity.

The bill continues the fight against terrorism and crime by prioritizing critical Federal law enforcement functions, and local law enforcement programs with the broadest reach and most flexible uses of funds.

By prioritizing scientific research, space exploration and education we are helping to boost our national economic competitiveness.

The bill represents our best take on matching needs with scarce resources.