Department of Commerce (DoC) Secretary Gina Raimondo asked members of Congress this week to fully fund President Biden’s proposed 10 percent increase in the agency’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2024, arguing that too much is at stake for U.S. economic interests to cut corners in the agency’s work.

With “your support through the appropriations process, the Commerce Department is making substantial progress on some of our nation’s most pressing economic and national security priorities, including those related to our supply chains, manufacturing, innovation, and workforce,” Raimondo said during the April 26 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“But global competition remains fierce, and we can’t take our foot off the gas,” she said. “I’m here today to ask you to build on those investments in fiscal year 2024 so we can keep the momentum going and continue to deliver on behalf of the American people.”

The DoC’s enacted FY23 budget is $11.2 billion. This year, the White House requested a 10 percent increase of $12.4 billion.

During the hearing, Raimondo highlighted some of the DoC’s technology budget requests for FY24. For example, the budget calls for $1.6 billion to support the work of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Raimondo said. That’s a $340 million increase from FY23.

Specifically, the budget includes $98 million to expand NIST’s role in Manufacturing USA.

The U.S. government currently funds 16 Manufacturing USA Institutes, one of which is sponsored by the DoC. The agency will add an additional institute this year using FY 2023 regular appropriations, and up to three additional semiconductor focused institutes leveraging CHIPS and Science Act funding, Raimondo said.

With the funding requested in FY24, the department will finance $60 million in new competitive awards to enable existing institutes to promote domestic production of institute-developed technologies.

The budget also proposes $713 million for the International Trade Administration (ITA), including a $26 million increase to make ITA’s supply chain resilience efforts more proactive. Raimondo highlighted that $21 million of ITA’s budget is to establish a supply chain resiliency office that aims to identify and assess economic and national security risks to supply chains, develop strategies to mitigate risks, and implement those strategies.

The DoC’s is also requesting over $4 billion for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub Program to foster geographic diversity in innovation and create quality jobs in underserved and vulnerable communities.

Finally, Raimondo highlighted that nearly $500 million will be dedicated to fundamental research infrastructure across the department. Sixty-three percent of NIST research facilities are in poor or critical condition, she said, arguing that NIST’s world-class scientists cannot continue to do the research to ensure tomorrow’s competitiveness in yesterday’s crumbling facilities.

Specifically, the budget includes $262 million for NIST Safety, Capacity, Maintenance, and Majors Repairs – more than double the FY23 enacted level – and $8 million for facilities maintenance at the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. Raimondo highlighted that this $500 million will not be enough to bring all the facilities up to standards, but it will be “a significant start.”

“With these smart, targeted investments we will bolster our economic and national security, make our supply chains more resilient, promote American manufacturing and innovation, and help more workers and businesses compete and win in the 21st century global economy,” the DoC chief said.

“The threats are real,” Raimondo said when talking about the nation’s adversaries – like Russia and China. “We have to continue, so we need the resources in order to be able to protect America and protect our technology.”

Last week, Raimondo warned the House Committee on Appropriations that proposals by House Republicans to cut funding to fiscal year 2022 levels would be a “huge step backward” to U.S. national security, as well as creating a “dangerous” hit to U.S. technological leadership.

Raimondo cautioned members of the Congress that proposals to cut funding as much as 22 percent for departments across the board – such as the NIST – are “wrongheaded.”

“I believe in not spending more than you need, being transparent, being lean and mean – but denying investments in America’s national security and ability to compete and ability to re-shore manufacturing and have resilient supply chains is wrongheaded,” Raimondo said at an April 19 House hearing on Biden’s FY24 budget request for the DoC.

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