Durbin: House Cuts Stifle American Innovation

[ARGONNE, IL] – Drastic cuts to federal spending for important scientific research would jeopardize America’s role as a global leader in research and innovation, as well as 1,450 high-paying jobs in Illinois, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today after meeting with lead researchers at Argonne National Laboratory. The federal spending bill for the current fiscal year (FY11), which was approved by the House of Representatives last Saturday morning, included a $1.1 billion cut to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports the work of seven National Laboratories, including Illinois’ Argonne and Fermilab. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration this week.
“These proposed funding cuts would have a devastating impact on our entire national laboratory system—American’s incubators for innovation. The House Republican's Continuing Resolution will cost our nation 10,000 jobs and would put important research efforts on hold for seven months. At least 1,450 research scientists and support staff at our two nationally recognized research labs here in Illinois, Argonne and Fermilab, would be laid off. This mindless cut is a clear signal that the House bill is not the product of a thoughtful effort. America must cut spending but it cannot abandon its leadership in research and innovation,” Durbin said.
H.R. 1, if enacted, would cut 1.1 billion from the FY11 budget request of $5.121 billion for the Office of Science, $899 million from the $2.355 billion EERE budget, and $250 million from the $300 million ARPA-E budget. According to lab directors, this would cause many of the national labs to completely shut down for three months, if not longer.
Suppliers and contractors for the labs, as well as the private companies that use the facilities also would be adversely affected by the closures and layoffs. In the last three years, Dow, Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, GE Research, 3M, Eli Lily, and AstraZeneca have used the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne to further grow their operations and create jobs. Severe funding cuts would cause Argonne to shutdown major projects and facilities, forcing these private companies to move their operations overseas.
“Slashing funding that supports the work of our national labs is ill advised and shortsighted. We need to invest in crucial research that fuels American innovation and helps create jobs in the growth industries of tomorrow,” Durbin said.