Durbin, Foster Introduce Bill To Preserve American Leadership In Innovation

Lack of federal research funding has led to $1.5 trillion investment deficit

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - With a decline in federal scientific research threatening our global competitiveness, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) announced the introduction of legislation to preserve America’s standing as a leader in discovery and innovation.

Federal funding for R&D has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. Today, the federal government spends almost two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965 as a portion of discretionary spending. Accounting for inflation, federal funding for science has lost 20%t in purchasing power in just three years. The lack of funding has led to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit and a growing number of America’s best young researchers are taking their talents to other industries – and other countries.

“The American Innovation Act will make funding for critical science research projects less political and more predictable. It will allow America’s smartest scientists and researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time finding new ways to produce clean energy and clean water and other solutions that the world needs,” Durbin said. “U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom, defeat polio, conquer space, create the Internet, map the human genome and much more. I am introducing this bill so that we can continue to invest in the best ideas of our scientists and America will remain the land of the future for generations to come.”


“As a scientist, I know that funding for research is not a spigot that can be turned on and off at will. Success in research and development requires a steady commitment of time and resources,” said Foster. “Strong support for federal research and development is more important than ever as our competitors around the world are steadily increasing their investments. The American Innovation Act will provide researchers with the support they need to maintain our role as global leaders in innovation.”


The American Innovation Act will put funding for basic research on a consistent, steady growth path over the next decade by providing annual budget increases of 5% – over and above inflation – for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Directorate.


What makes these cuts doubly dangerous is that our competitors are not cutting their research efforts – they are scaling them up dramatically. Over the last decade, while the U.S. was increasing federal R&D investments 4 percent a year, China was increasing its R&D investments by 20 percent a year. If we stay on this course, China will be investing more in R&D than the U.S. as soon as the year 2020. According to The Science Coalition, China already performs nearly as much of the world’s high-tech manufacturing today as does the US.


The American Innovation Act complements legislation Durbin introduced earlier this year - the American Cures Act - which would similarly provide funding growth and certainty for the National Institutes of Health and certain other agencies focused on biomedical research.


The American Innovation Act has been supported by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, The Science Coalition, Task Force on American Innovation, IBM Corporation, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and The Close the Innovation Deficit campaign, a coalition of more than 120 national business, higher education, scientific, patient, and other organizations.