Senator Meets With Fermi Director To Discuss Support For National Lab And Funding For Science Research

[WASHINGTON, DC] –  After addressing the steady decline in federal research investment during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense earlier today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with the Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Dr. Nigel Lockyer to discuss the importance of continued federal funding for scientific research and development programs.

“As one of our top national laboratories, Fermilab is home to some of America’s best and brightest researchers. The work they do is a fundamental part of the basic infrastructure that builds this country,” said Durbin. “It is critical that we maintain our commitment to the scientific research taking place at our national labs that fuels American innovation and helps create jobs in the growth industries of tomorrow.”

Video of Senator Durbin’s opening statement at today’s hearing can be accessed here.

During today’s hearing on the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget request, Durbin – Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense – discussed the steady decline in federal research investment which has led to a cumulative $1.5 trillion research investment deficit. Durbin is the author of two bills – the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act – to support biomedical and science research, and to preserve America’s standing as a leader in discovery and innovation. Last year the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense was successful in increasing basic research across the DOD and the services by $260 million and adding an additional $1.26 billion for DOD medical research. 

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 percent – 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.

Durbin has also championed the energy research and development accounts that support work at Fermilab. Last year, Durbin helped secure $766 million in funding for the Office of Science’s High Energy Physics account which is the primary source of funding for Fermilab, and accounts for approximately 90 percent of the lab’s funding. The funding – included in the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2015 – helps support the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, a primary focus at Fermilab; the Muon to Electron Experiment, which could result in the development of a revolutionary technology in the field; and Superconducting Radio-Frequency (SRF) Accelerator research, which develops new technologies that will be used across the DOE national laboratory system to build more-powerful detection tools and instruments.

Fermilab is the nation’s premier high-energy physics laboratory that employs over 1,700 people including physicists, engineers and computer professionals.  The laboratory leads U.S. research into the fundamental nature of matter and energy. Fermilab is a world-leading laboratory in the study of neutrino physics and particle accelerator technologies.