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Secretary Pritzker Oral Testimony on the Commerce Department’s FY 2015 Budget Request Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science

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AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
202-482-4883

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker
Oral Testimony on the Commerce Department’s FY 2015 Budget Request Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science

Chairman Wolf, Ranking Member Fattah, and members of the Subcommittee – thank you for this opportunity to discuss President Obama’s FY15 budget request for the Department of Commerce.

I want to begin though, by thanking you Chairman Wolf for your 34 years of service to your constituents and the American people. You have been an ardent supporter of funding for science and technology, foreign direct investment and a passionate advocate for international human rights issues. I will miss working with you, as will my colleagues at the Department of Commerce, but I have no doubt that you will continue to be a champion for the causes of freedom and justice in the years to come.

The Department of Commerce budget request of $8.8 billion reflects President Obama’s commitment to support American business and create economic opportunity, while building upon the important investments that Congress enacted in FY14.

As you may know, the Department recently rolled out its priorities and Strategic Plan – called the Open for Business Agenda. The budget reflects our priorities in several ways:

First, we want to build on the four consecutive record-breaking years of American exports and the trend of rising business investment into the United States. We propose that the International Trade Administration receive an eight per cent increase, which will bolster our work to support current and potential exporters, boost inbound investment through our highly-effective SelectUSA program, and strengthen trade enforcement.  I should also note that 2015 will conclude the biggest element of the President’s export control reform initiative which strengthens our national security and allows for more trade with our allies.

Second, we will continue to support American innovation. The Commerce Department is becoming known as the Department of Innovation. Over the past few years, we have laid down more than 100,000 miles of broadband – bringing more opportunity to businesses and communities across the country. We have also reduced the patent application backlog, though we still have more work to do.

To continue driving innovation, the budget includes increased funding for research at bureaus such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  As you know, NIST attracts private sector partners to collaborate with us in areas ranging from advanced manufacturing to cybersecurity.

Looking forward, we will expand efforts to help small manufacturers adopt new technologies and increase their competitiveness (eg., AMTec, MEP). In addition, the budget reflects the President’s call for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, a powerful model focused on pre-competitive research, which already has bipartisan support in the House and Senate. We will also drive innovation through regional capacity-building, continued support for minority-owned businesses, and both executive and legislative efforts to continue strengthening our patent system – an issue that Congress is currently working to address.

Third, we will do more to unleash the potential of data. The budget proposes a significant increase (to $754 million) to prepare for an efficient and effective 2020 Census. We have embarked on an aggressive research and testing program that will help us identify ways to make it easier for people to respond to the Census. We will consistently review the benchmarks of this program to ensure we are able to meet our goals. As you know, business and government leaders across the country use this crucial data to make decisions about growth and hiring. 

Also, I recently announced that we will partner with the private sector to make more NOAA data accessible and usable for entrepreneurs and the public. This budget supports this effort into FY15.

Fourth, we will gather and act on environmental intelligence. The budget includes $2 billion for satellites which provide weather and climate data to protect lives and property.  These funds will also help businesses and communities adapt to a changing planet. I should note that these satellite programs are currently on schedule and on budget thanks to our rigorous monitoring and management efforts. The budget also includes $519 million for our National Ocean Service which improves the resilience of our coasts, as well as $917 million for our National Marine Fisheries Service.

In closing, as a former business leader, I strongly believe that this budget reflects wise, targeted investments of taxpayer dollars – investments that will be highly-valued by the Commerce Department’s stakeholders. I look forward to answering your questions and achieving the important vision laid out in our Department’s Strategic Plan.