Nearly 50 years ago, President John Kennedy launched an initiative to safely send a man to the moon and back. He called on us to be first in engineering and science, in technology and industry – for the sake of our economic growth, our common prosperity, our national security, and our leadership across the globe. Today, at another critical juncture in our nation's history, we must renew that same spirit of action and opportunity to continue our work to create jobs and strengthen our economy.
It is imperative that America continues to lead the world through innovation and discovery by investing in cutting-edge research, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, while investing in clean energy, pursuing renewable resources, creating green jobs, and increasing opportunities at every turn. Science and technological discoveries have formed the backbone of our progress as a people and our prosperity as a nation. America’s future progress and competitiveness demand that we initiate a sustained financial and intellectual investment in innovation.
San Francisco is home to the Innovation Capital of the World, where the top technology and creative talent across the global have been called to action and have led our technological boom. I have been proud to represent San Francisco as a longtime hotbed of new ideas, new businesses, and new industries. Our city always leads the rest of the world, connects our workers to their counterparts overseas, sets the standard for excellence in fields of innovation, strengthens our entrepreneurial spirit and the American Dream.
The growth in San Francisco has allowed for our workers to acquire the tools, training, and resources that allow for us to take part in – and lead – the new economy. I have long worked to support San Francisco’s technology, telecommunications, and science sectors – the foundation for good jobs and growing industries.
San Francisco’s information technology (IT) sector has emerged as a high growth industry, accounting for one in five jobs in the city. Yet the region’s employers have difficulty recruiting for high demand occupations due to a shortage of qualified candidates and a widening skills gap. Access to training for high skilled workers is critical to the future of San Francisco, the Greater Bay Area, and California.
In order to protect our emerging industries, our city and nation must prevail in the global marketplace by winning the future. Protecting scientific research and education has been, and will remain, a top priority for my office and House Democrats.
To meet our goals, we must inspire the next generation of young Americans to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We must increase the number of high-skilled visas for foreign students with advanced STEM degrees graduating from America’s greatest research universities. In San Francisco, we are fortunate enough to see firsthand the new technologies, new companies, and new jobs they create everyday through our city.
When I was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2010, I worked with my Democratic colleagues on the Innovation Agenda. Our agenda was simple – a commitment to competitiveness to keep America #1 by:
The Innovation Agenda invested $31 billion solely on the initiatives. This included working with leaders from the high-technology, venture capital, academic, biotech and telecommunications sectors, and identifying priorities that helped guarantee our national security and prosperity, and expanding markets for American products.
The re-authorization of The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act was a major milestone in the Democratic-led Congress from 2009 to 2011. The COMPETES Act keeps America on target by expanding the budgets of key federal agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy. They are the centers for incubating and generating tomorrow’s breakthroughs and bolstering STEM education. The America COMPETES Act laid the foundation for new industries to provide good jobs for our workers, open new markets for American products, and offer more students and entrepreneurs a better chance to live out the American dream.
The future of science, technology, research and development, and innovation are in jeopardy as Republicans continue cut from critical investments in science and innovation. We cannot reduce the deficit on the backs of the new industries and technologies that will stimulate our economy, put people to work, and sustain and strengthen American leadership. House Democrats are committed to economic growth and job creation rooted in our unflinching dedication to scientific research, clean energy, and industries of innovation.
A commitment to innovation and progress: that was the spirit that inspired President Kennedy and our nation more than half-a-century ago. That is the tradition passed down from generation to generation of American leaders. That is the same spirit we must cherish and embrace to build a stronger economy and middle class in the 21st century.