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Congressman Randy Hultgren

Representing the 14th District of ILLINOIS

Hultgren Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Modernize National Labs

Jul 16, 2014
Press Release
House Companion to Coons-Rubio INNOVATES Bill

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14), along with Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Alan Nunnelee (R-MS), and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Subcommittee on Energy, respectively, today introduced the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014, H.R. 5120, a companion bill to the America INNOVATES Act (S. 1973) sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). These bills would bring the United States’ national lab system into the 21st Century and promote the easy transfer of federal research into the hands of the private sector, improving the public-private partnerships that are essential to bringing innovative ideas to the marketplace.

“Our national labs have been a primary driver of American innovation since the Manhattan Project, but many of their most important discoveries have been made in the past decade. It is essential we update Cold War-era policies, acknowledge the rapid pace of technological change, and improve the labs’ capacity to partner with private enterprise and convert their cutting edge research into marketplace innovation,” said Rep. Hultgren. “Research produced at Illinois’ own Fermilab and Argonne, for example, has enormous economic potential. Their discoveries cannot remain stuck in the labs. Streamlining their tech transfer capabilities will help push the private sector, not government, to spend further resources on promising technologies. I am honored to be joined in this effort by Rep. Kilmer, Chairmen Smith and Lummis, Ranking Members Johnson and Swalwell, Reps. Fattah and Nunnelee, and Sens. Coons and Rubio. I look forward to quick consideration and passage in the House.”

"Our national laboratories have been the birthplace of some of our most revolutionary technologies,” said Rep. Kilmer. “When that research is harnessed by entrepreneurs and business leaders, start-ups with one or two employees can grow into companies that create hundreds of quality jobs. We want to make sure our labs remain an important foundation of our knowledge-based economy. That’s why we are introducing this bipartisan legislation to give scientists and researchers at national labs the tools and freedom they need to unlock a new wave of great discoveries.”

“Our nation’s economic growth is tied to our ability to turn promising ideas into job-supporting innovations,” Senator Coons said. “Too many transformative ideas and scientific breakthroughs never leave our national labs, which squanders enormous potential. This bill will modernize critical aspects of our national lab system and give our labs new tools and flexibility to partner with the private sector, helping American businesses access the tools they need to innovate. This bill will widen and streamline our nation’s innovation pipeline, helping to create badly needed jobs.”

“The federal government has a limited but important role in supporting basic research, and our network of national labs has long been a leading source of that research. The INNOVATES Act we introduced in the Senate would make it easier for our labs to work together with businesses of all sizes to bring groundbreaking research to fruition in the marketplace, create jobs and help solve 21st century problems,” said Senator Rubio. “I thank Representatives Hultgren, Kilmer, Fattah, Nunnelee, Chairmen Smith and Lummis, and Ranking Members Johnson and Swalwell for leading the companion effort in the House through the Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014.”

In July 2013, the Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to consider recommendations regarding how best to enhance Department of Energy (DOE) support of science and innovation through reforms in areas related to management, performance, technology transfer, and laboratory authorities and regulations. Additionally, the Heritage Foundation, the Center for American Progress and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) together produced a report supporting policy changes to update the national labs titled, “Turning the Page: Reimagining the National Labs in the 21st Century Innovation Economy.” ITIF sent a letter of support for the bill.

Reps. Hultgren, Fattah and Nunnelee are co-chairs on the House Science and National Labs Caucus. Rep. Hultgren and Rep. Kilmer are both members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and serve together on the Subcommittee on Research and Technology.