Federally Funded Scientific Research Will Keep America's Economy Thriving

By U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock
February 2015

To the average person, the term “basic scientific research” conjures images of scientists in lab coats carefully piping chemicals into boiling beakers of water or sitting in front of computer screens filled with data. While those activities are an essential part of scientific research, they are far from the whole story. The reach of basic scientific research extends far outside the lab.

Indeed, science, technology, engineering, the arts and math are critical components to a thriving American economy. Global competition for jobs and market access requires the United States to prioritize workforce training in these areas. It also requires a consistent commitment to support research and development within these disciplines.

Historically, federal investment in basic research has served to lay that foundation through defense and science-based agencies, like NASA, the National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health. The work done by these agencies strengthens the ability for U.S.-based private sector companies to develop practical innovations, create new industries and jobs, and grow the economy.

Products, such as the internet, MRIs, GPS, cell phones, and fiber optics, are examples of federal research being applied to achieve economic growth. This symbiotic relationship has been estimated by the National Research Council to generate nearly $500 billion in revenue at 30 well-known technology companies.

Unfortunately, federal investment in research and development has declined in recent years - from a peak of 2.2 percent of GDP in 1964 to 1 percent of GDP today. The United States now ranks 29th among nations that fund R&D activities. While many companies have their own R&D budgets, their focus is on funding projects that can provide quick returns. As a result, only about 5 percent of private sector R&D is on the kind of basic research that leads to innovation.

That is why federal investments are vital. I’ve always believed that the best way for government to contribute to a thriving economy is to foster an environment where private industry can prosper. Federal basic research provides innovative companies the raw material to build the next great product right here in America, and the role of both is essential.

One shining example of the link between federal and private investments in R&D is occurring in my home state of Illinois, through the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). Led by Chicago-based UI Labs and the University of Illinois, the DMDII is leveraging $70 million in defense contracts to secure $250 million in industry commitments. The goal is to develop and commercialize digital technologies that will elevate U.S. manufacturing into the 21st Century, which would increase productivity and spur new growth for Illinois workers and the national economy. These innovative partnerships, when combined with sustained federal investments in scientific research, will continue to drive our economy and keep America competitive.

President's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request


Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) represents the 18th District of Illinois, a historic region of the country that was home to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. First elected to Congress in 2008, Rep. Schock was re-elected in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

Schock currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which is the oldest committee of the United States Congress and the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives. In the 114th Congress, Schock was appointed to sit House Committee on the Budget. He concurrently holds a seat on the House Administration Committee. As a Senior Deputy Republican Whip, Schock is responsible for assisting House Republican leadership in crafting legislative strategy and floor votes. Schock is also a member of the House Republican Conference Advisory Committee.

As the first Member of Congress born in the 1980s, Schock has raised the profile of young leaders in the Republican Party and has built a record of working on a bipartisan basis with young elected officials at the local, state and federal level.

A principled legislator, Schock has forged alliances with conservative groups and Democratic colleagues alike. In the 113th Congress, Schock sponsored legislation to expand religious liberty exemptions under Obamacare that sailed through the House of Representatives with no opposition. He has worked to pass legislation that helps surviving military families, strengthens the middle class, and creates economic opportunities for all Americans. He’s also sponsored legislation to provide charitable organizations with greater opportunities to raise funds and continue their important work of meeting community needs. - See more at: http://schock.house.gov/biography/#sthash.6TkoeRXU.dpuf.

Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL)

Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL)