Durbin and Silicon Valley Leaders Meet to Discuss Support for American Innovation & Discovery

Durbin-Authored Legislation Would Invest in Breakthrough Biomedical Research

[WASHINGTON, DC] Today, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin met with members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, including Mountain View, California Mayor Chris Clark, to discuss efforts to maintain America's global leadership and economic competitiveness through scientific research. Earlier this month, Durbin introduced the American Cures Act, which would support the future of scientific research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. A photo of today's meeting is available here.

“In the last two centuries, U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom, defeat polio, conquer space, create the Internet, and map the human genome. Silicon Valley has capitalized on those achievements to become one of the world's most vibrant hubs of innovation and discovery, injecting billions of dollars into our economy and creating thousands of jobs,” Durbin said.  “But without U.S. government-funded research the world might never have heard of Google or Apple, Larry Page or Steve Jobs. Public investments are critical to ensuring that America maintains a strong foundation in basic research to spur private development in Silicon Valley's growing tech industries and preserve our position as the global innovation leader.

On Monday, Durbin delivered a speech at the University of Illinois – Chicago to call for greater federal investments in scientific research. During the speech, Durbin highlighted the story of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina who worked as graduate students at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign's federally-funded National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Andreesen and Bina went on to found Netscape Communication, formerly headquartered in Mountain View, and develop Netscape Navigator, one of the world's first web browsers. Durbin's full remarks as prepared for delivery are attached.


In 2011, fifty-three percent of all funding for basic research came from the federal government. Yet as a percentage of the total federal budget, the federal government spends two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965. At NIH – the foremost biomedical research institute in the world – the number of research grants the agency is able to fund has declined every year for the past 10 years.


Durbin's American Cures Act would reverse that trend by augmenting federal appropriations for biomedical research with a mandatory trust fund dedicated to steady growth in research conducted at NIH, CDC, DHP, and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Each year, the bill would increase funding for each agency and program at a rate of GDP-indexed inflation plus 5 percent. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.


Making a serious, sustained investment in federally funded research is especially critical as other countries around the world are placing a priority on their own research investments. Between 1999 and 2009, Asia's share of worldwide research and development expenditures grew from 24 percent to 32 percent – while American expenditures fell from 38 percent to 31 percent.