Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to Republicans' Unpaid-For R&D Plan and Anti-Science COMPETES Act

May 20, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the House floor in opposition to House Republicans’ plan to blow a $182 billion dollar hole in the deficit with their unpaid-for R&D tax credit extension, and Republicans’ COMPETES Act, which would devastate our nation’s commitment to science and innovation.  Below is a transcript of the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much Mr Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding and I thank Mr. Thompson and the Ranking Member, Mr. Levin, and Members of the Committee for bringing clarity to this debate today.  Mr. Speaker, Democrats have always believed that innovation is what keeps America number one.  I think that that is a view that is shared by all of us in the Congress.

“Our commitment – on our side of the aisle, I know – is to science, to research and development that creates jobs, launches entire new industries, and gives us the miraculous power to cure.  For Americans to continue to lead in the 21st century, for us to meet the challenges of our time, for us to secure a strong and sustainable future for America’s families and the next generation: we must commit to fueling the engines of innovation.

“When President Kennedy challenged Americans to reach for the moon, he reminded us that America must lead in innovation.  ‘The vows of this nation,’ he said, ‘can only be fulfilled if we are first, and therefore, we intend to be first.  Our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort.’

“However, according to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in these days,  the United States has dropped to tenth place in national R&D investment as a percentage of GDP.  As their report makes clear, ‘Unless basic research becomes a higher government priority than it has been in recent decades, the potential for fundamental scientific breakthroughs and future technological advances will be severely constrained.’  Instead of meeting this urgent need and challenge, Republicans are coming to the floor of this House today with not one, but two bills that do violence – do violence – to that aspiration.

“First of all, we have the Republican so-called R&D bill – a completely unpaid-for, permanent and deficit-exploding tax extension.  Democrats support extending the R&D tax credit – in fact, well, I’ll talk about it when I get to the second bill.  We support it, and we will be offering a Motion to Recommit for a two-year extension, to give Congress, Democrats and Republicans, time to work together to pass comprehensive tax reform that closes loopholes and pays for making this tax credit permanent.  But with this bill alone, Republicans will explode the deficit by $182 billion.

“This is just part of a larger package of permanent, and completely unpaid-for Republican tax measures this year that will add almost $600 billion to the deficit – over a half a trillion dollars added to the deficit, including their bill to hand $269 billion to the 5,400 richest families in the country. 5,400 families in their estate tax bill would be getting the benefit of $269 billion, paid for by the middle class in our country, depriving us of investments in our children’s future.  The fact is that House Republicans have spent this entire Congress blowing up the deficit with unpaid-for tax giveaways overwhelmingly tilted towards wealthy special interests.

“It’s worth noting that this bill – my colleagues, hear this – this bill on the floor has nothing to do with enterprising start-ups that are unable to claim the R&D tax credit.  So some of you have said to me, ‘I have all these start-ups in my district.’  By and large, they cannot benefit from this bill the way it is written.  We would have liked to have written our Motion to Recommit to go further to do that.  The parliamentarians say, because you prevent it in your base bill, we can’t go further.

“On this same day – and this is what’s really stunning in the look of it all – on the same day that you are saying, ‘We’re going to do a ‘gotcha’ bill on R&D, and challenge you all who support R&D not to vote for our approach,’ on the very same day, lest anybody think this is an overwhelming interest in R&D on the Republican side of the aisle, Republicans are bringing to the floor a COMPETES Act that completely undermines everything to do with science and innovation in our country.  It completely upsets our Innovation Agenda.

“In the 110th Congress, we put forth the Innovation Agenda – a totally non-partisanly developed bill.  Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and George Miller took the lead, going across the country, getting input – non-partisan input, academic input, venture capital input, technological input – into the Innovation Agenda.

“And that Innovation Agenda really calls for making permanent and modernizing the R&D tax credit.  We see the relationship between science, techonology, innovation, and progress to keep America number one with the R&D tax credit – but not done this way, as we do on the floor.  This is a trap in order to keep us from investing in the Innovation Agenda.  And that was something that Bart Gordon, as chair of the Science & Technology Committee, fought for and achieved; ARPA-E [Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy], you know that, to name one thing.

“But instead, today, the Republicans are bringing a bill that totally does violence to all of this.  I hope Members will listen to and support the alternative presented by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, the Ranking Member on the Committee.

“But anyway, in the original COMPETES passed by the Democratic Congress – supported by an overwhelming number of Republicans; a majority of Republicans defied their leadership and voted for the COMPETES Act in the 110th Congress – in that original bill passed in a bipartisan way, we laid the foundation for new industries that provide good jobs for our workers; that open new markets for American products; that ensure we continue to ‘rise above the gathering storm.’  Norm Augustine and others led the way to show what the ‘gathering storm’ was unless we made those investments in science and technology.  And as I said, we created ARPA-E – so important.

“This Republican bill betrays everything that the COMPETES Act did: it is an assault on science, and a plan to surrender American leadership in innovation.  Instead of investing in research and development, their bill slashes funding for essential iniatives in the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Department of Energy research.  It cuts Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D by $496 million – that’s huge, a half a billion dollar cut – nearly 30 percent below what was appropriated last year.  It cuts ARPA-E by $140 million – 50 percent below the level in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill passed last week.

“Most insidiously, Republicans are attacking science they don’t even want to hear.  Just because you don’t want to hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  In this COMPETES bill that they are presenting, they are trying to silence the climate, environmental and social science they have consistently tried to ignore.  The Republican bill goes so far as to forbid federal agencies such as the EPA or FERC from using any research funded or developed by DOE – a brazen attempt to divorce their decisions from scientific inquiry.

“So again, the very idea that, on this floor, today they come out with this masquerade of R&D tax credits –  $182 billion added to the deficit – with the impression that they care about R&D – R&D into what?  R&D into nothing that is about innovation to keep America number one.

“These Republican bills represent – this is a perfect manifestation of Republicans’ Trickle-Down economics.  The choice that our country has to make in the economy, as we go forward, is Trickle-Down economics versus Middle-Class economics.  Trickle-Down theories have not worked.  They are what got is in trouble in 2008, and it’s exactly what the Republicans are trying to take us back to.  Today is one manifestation of that.

“Republicans are seeking to ransack our nation’s investments in the future – our commitment to science, our commitments to our children’s education, our commitment to bigger paychecks and better infrastructure for every American family.

“We need to come together in a bipartisan way – and that is very possible; we did it with the COMPETES Act before – to pay for the R&D tax credit extension.  We need to reject this Republican assault on science that will happen later today.

“We need to invest in the future of innovation, of our country, of hard-working American families.  We need to reject failed Trickle-Down economic theories, and accept that the success of our nation depends on bigger paychecks for America’s working families.  R&D tax credits made permanent and modernized are a significant part of that.  But they are not a part of it if they take us deeper into debt – preventing us from making the investments in the future.

“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘No’ on this fiscally irresponsible R&D bill, ‘No’ on the destructive COMPETES Act, and ‘Yes’ on the proposal made by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.  And I thank her for her great leadership for keeping America number one.  I yield back the balance of my time.”