Durbin: We Must Ensure Our Defense Innovation Investments Allow Us To Compete With Our Adversaries

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, today participated in a hearing on Department of Defense (DOD) Research and Innovation. Witnesses from DOD Research and Engineering and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) testified about how to better engage DOD’s technology strategy and capabilities.

During the hearing, Durbin raised concerns about the rise of adversaries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea and the importance of focusing on technologies that maintain the U.S. military’s dominance. Durbin also questioned witnesses about how the United States, which spends more money annually on defense in comparison to its adversaries, is getting a return-on-investment with critical research and development spending.

“We spend more than all other nations in the world on defense and security…but it’s our job in this Committee to ask a question of whether we’re getting our money’s worth out of this?”  Durbin asked. “Does our investment in innovation give us a natural lead, an acquired lead, in this competition that budget figures belie?”

Durbin then asked about improvements to the way we invest in defense innovation in order to better compete with adversaries abroad, recognizing the value of disruptive thinking, for example at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Video of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

Last month, Durbin introduced a pair of bills that would increase funding for research at DOD. The American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act would create mandatory funds to provide steady, predictable funding for breakthrough research at America’s top research agencies, allowing the United States to remain a leader in development and discovery for decades to come.

The American Cures Act would provide annual budget increases of five percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

The American Innovation Act would provide annual budget increases of five percent plus 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 Services, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Directorate.