Floor Statement on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill
MR. REED: Mr. President, I am here today to speak on the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, and I begin by thanking the chairman of the committee, Senator Mikulski, and the ranking member, Senator Shelby, for an extraordinarily well-crafted appropriations bill which responds to the needs of the country and responds particularly to those areas which were neglected in the initial submission by the President.
This bill will protect our citizens and support law enforcement, which is a critical aspect of our engagement to provide security and safety for all of our citizens. It will strengthen America's competitiveness in the global economy. And it will also go a long way to begin to properly husband and conserve our oceans and coastal communities.
Once again, let me commend Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby for a job well done. I hope as we go forward the President will work with the Senate and the House to enact this legislation, to sign it, to fund it appropriately, and to continue to strengthen our country in so many different ways.
This bill will restore $1.5 billion in funding cuts to State and local law enforcement programs. We have seen, shockingly in my mind, an increase in the statistics of violent crime in this country. That tears at the fabric of every community in America. We need these funds. I am pleased to see the chairman and ranking member respond to that need by providing additional resources.
Since 2001, budgets for these law enforcement programs have been decimated, and many in law enforcement believe these cuts have contributed to this very rise in violent crime. To reverse this troubling trend, the bill provides $2.66 billion in funding for the Office of Justice programs, which includes Justice assistance, State and local law enforcement assistance, community-oriented policing services, and juvenile justice programs.
The $550 million for the COPS Program will help local law enforcement agencies combat crime and respond to terrorist threats. There is another dimension. When we enacted the COPS Program years ago, we were thinking of law enforcement at the local level simply being an agent to stop those perpetrators of crime. Now we have to deal, and they have to deal, with terrorists, and they have to be prepared to do that.
In Rhode Island, the COPS Program has provided nearly $30 million in Federal funding and helped over 395 police officers--it has helped that many--since its inception. We would have literally hundreds of police officers absent from their place on the streets of Rhode Island if this program had not been adopted, and if this bill does not continue to support it. I have been pleased to be a cosponsor of Senator Biden's amendment, which I think was one of the foundations of the proposal we see today in the appropriations bill.
This bill also provides $7.35 billion for the Department of Commerce. This is a diverse agency. It has a significant impact in Rhode Island. It supports, in Rhode Island, ocean exploration. We have the University of Rhode Island School of Oceanography, which is one of the best in the country, and it depends significantly on support from NOAA and the Department of Commerce. Coastal protection: We are the Ocean State.'' We have, per area, the longest coastline of any State in the country.
We have a fisheries program. We are an active fishing state, and we need that help and support.
I am excited about the opportunities, particularly for increased research with respect to our oceans. Oceans, through fishing, through transport, through recreation, contribute an estimated $120 billion a year to our economy, and they support over 2 million jobs. Yet we do very little to research the ocean. We do little to stimulate aquaculture, commercial fishing, tourism--all of these things which are huge economic drivers to our economy in Rhode Island and in many parts of the country. This bill will begin to pick up the pace when it comes to supporting these important endeavors.
There is a Joint Oceans Commission that has been charged with looking at oceans policy, and they have given our country a grade. In 2006, it was a C-minus. It was a little bit better than 2005--that was a D-plus--but we want to get A's when it comes to ocean policy. That means supporting this legislation and putting the money in to help NOAA particularly. This bill provides $4.2 billion for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, including $795 million to fund the Joint Ocean Commission's recommendations for ocean research, education, observation, and exploration.
Let me commend again Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby for making this a part of this important legislation. The world is basically covered by ocean. We spend a very small fraction on ocean research relative to major research programs for the atmosphere, for space. We have to start looking within the oceans, not only for scientific answers but for commercial opportunity.
The bill also strengthens U.S. innovation and competitiveness. Following the recommendations of the National Academy of Science's report Rising Above the Gathering Storm,'' the bill invests in research and technology that will pay dividends for our future. Specifically, the bill provides over $5.1 billion for basic research through the National Science Foundation, including $117.5 million for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research--the EPSCoR Program. This EPSCoR Program has been very critical in my home State of Rhode Island. It has provided a partnership between the Federal Government, academic agencies, schools, universities, and State government to stimulate research. It is a valuable catalyst for research going forward.
Now, with more than 50 percent of NSF's funding going to seven States, this EPSCoR Program makes sure that the other States--the other 43 States--get a little attention and a little cooperation and a little support. It is incredibly important to Rhode Island, and I particularly thank the chairman and the ranking member for their support.
Let me mention something else about NSF funding, something else about research funding. It is not just the foregone experiment, the foregone program research; without robust funding for the National Science Foundation and other areas of academic endeavor, we are losing a whole generation of researchers, of academics.
I went to the laboratory at Brown University, the neuroscience lab--terribly sophisticated, doing remarkably good work. I talked to a young researcher, a Ph.D., a woman in her early thirties. She said not only did she need additional support, but she looked back at her class of Yale graduates, Ph.D. scientists, and she is the only one of about seven of those Ph.D.s from Yale who has the money to do the research. She pointed out that if you don't get that money at 30 years old to do this fundamental research and establish yourself, you will not get tenured at 39, and as a result, you quickly decide you are leaving the field. You can go to a pharmaceutical company; you can go to an investment bank and use your skills in terms of analyzing portfolios and investments. You won't be doing basic research, expanding the knowledge, teaching other scientists and other young students. That is what is so critical about this, in addition to simply making sure we continue to do the research, and I thank my colleagues for their support.
Let me also mention another program, and that is the manufacturing extension program. All of my colleagues, without exception--and I include myself--come to the floor and talk about the decline of American manufacturing, the fact that we used to have, particularly up my way in the Northeast, communities that revolved around manufacturing plants at every corner. Growing up in Rhode Island, when you drove through communities such as Pawtucket in the 1950s on a Saturday, all you could hear was click, click, click. Those machines were working overtime. There was no air-conditioning; the windows were open until 11 o'clock at night. It is silent there now. We are losing manufacturing.
This manufacturing extension program is the only real money we put in to directly aid manufacturing. It gives them new techniques, new technology. It gives them suggestions about how they can be competitive on a global basis. It helps the small manufacturer. It is critical. It is the last support for many of these individual companies, the last support they get to face a very competitive world. I again appreciate so much how this money has been included in this appropriation.
This bill also provided $283 million to the Economic Development Administration. EDA is one of those critical agencies of the Federal Government that will allow local communities to fulfill their plans for local economic development. We have used this program repeatedly to jump-start progress at the local level. They have gone in and they have funded, and they have a rather wide mandate that they can justify as economic development, but they have funded programs that have allowed investments by States and cities and private entities to really give us a leg up in terms of providing employment, providing new economic opportunities for my communities in Rhode Island. Again, it is a very valuable agency.
Of this funding, $15 million is for trade adjustment assistance for firms, and this is targeted to medium-sized manufacturers and agricultural companies that experienced loss from foreign imports.
Again, related to the struggle of our manufacturing companies, we are seeing so much that used to be produced in America is now imported, and what is lost in the balance is many jobs, and this money will help, at least a bit, to ease that transition. It allows people really to retool themselves for a new economy. It gets them off the unemployment rolls more quickly than otherwise and gives them something more important than just a check; it gives them new hope. For many of my constituents, it is particularly distressing when you reach midlife, you have worked very hard, you got out of high school in the 1960s and thought you could have a whole career based on a high school diploma, and guess what. Now the company is gone. You have to have new skills. Where are you going to turn? This helps these individuals, not just with the monetary compensation, not just with a little bit of assistance, but with a new hope that they can get on with their lives. It is very important.
So much of this bill is commendable, and it is the work of not only the hands but the hearts of both Senator Mikulski and Senator Shelby that have made this such a worthwhile piece of legislation. I am proud to support it. I hope we can move it forward quickly, and I hope the President will sign it. I believe it will be a victory for all Americans.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.