Durbin calls for stronger federal investment in scientific research

08.11.15 -

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for greater federal investment in scientific and biomedical research in a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Durbin discussed two pieces of legislation, The American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act, which would create a mandatory fund to provide steady, predicable funding for breakthrough research at America’s top research agencies.

"The American Cures and Innovation Acts will make funding for critical science research projects less political and more predictable. They will allow America's smartest scientists and researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time finding new ways to produce clean energy and clean water and other solutions that the world needs," Durbin said. "U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom, defeat polio, conquer space, create the Internet, map the human genome and much more. I introduced these bills so that we can continue to invest in the best ideas of our scientists and America will remain the land of the future for generations to come."

The American Cures Act, which Durbin introduced last year, would provide annual budget increases of 5 percent plus inflation at America's top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program.

As a companion to the American Cures Act, Durbin introduced the American Innovation Act earlier this year, which would provide annual budget increases of 5 percent 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. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.

Federal funding for R&D has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. Today, the federal government spends almost two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965 as a portion of discretionary spending. Accounting for inflation, federal funding for science has lost 20 percent in purchasing power in just three years. The lack of funding has led to a $1.5 trillion investment deficit and a growing number of America's best young researchers are taking their talents to other industries—and other countries. Durbin's legislation aims to reverse that trend and close the nation's invention and innovation deficit.

Contact information

Christina Angarola
(312) 353-4623 office
(312) 848-4484 cell

National Science Foundation

Blue Waters is supported by the National Science Foundation through awards ACI-0725070 and ACI-1238993.

National Science Foundation

XSEDE is supported by National Science Foundation through award ACI-1053575.