Inside (the Beltway) ScoopBy: Ellen Kuo
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Reviewing the Department of Energy’s Budget Request
Senate Appropriations Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) began the Energy and Water Subcommittee hearing with the Department of Energy (DOE) by emphasizing that the U.S. needs to continue to lead on the world stage by ensuring that funding keeps pace at this critical moment in time. She wanted to see a focus not only on funding defense, but also on other areas such as DOE’s funding. DOE has an important role in leading our scientific research, protecting the country, and keeping the U.S. as a global leader. She also said the U.S should not cede ground to other countries by slowing investments in our research and scientific enterprise.
The Honorable David Turk, Deputy Secretary at DOE, testified about various parts of its budget for fiscal year (FY) 2024. The president’s budget provides $8.8 billion for the Office of Science, advancing toward the authorized level in the CHIPS and Science Act to support cutting-edge research at the DOE National Laboratories and the department’s university partners, and to build and operate world-class scientific user facilities. This funding level is less than FASEB’s $9.5 billion and the Energy Sciences Coalition’s request of the same amount. House Science Committee Chair Frank Lucas also issued a letter to DOE urging it to start treating the Office of Science as an essential part of the federal research enterprise.
Turk testified that the Office of Science is uniquely positioned within the federal research and development (R&D) structure to capitalize on investments to further enhance our country’s innovation capabilities. The requested funding level would support critical advancements in emerging technologies like quantum information science, artificial intelligence (AI), and nuclear fusion. The national labs already have strong programs and user facilities for these game-changing technologies.
Within funding for the Office of Science, the budget provides more than $1 billion to achieve fusion on the decadal timescale; leverages data, analytics, and computational infrastructure to strengthen and support U.S. biodefense and pandemic preparedness strategies and plans; provides new computing insight through quantum information science and AI that addresses scientific and environmental challenges; expands microelectronics innovation; furthers the understanding of climate change; and positions the country to meet the demand for isotopes. Cuts to DOE’s budget to address the debt limit would force the agency to lay off 5,200 scientists and other personnel at its national laboratories. It could also mean 2,600 fewer users of its national labs and force organizations to look abroad to further their research endeavors.