Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) voted against a partisan funding bill that could lead to dangerous across the board defense cuts, would eliminate an energy research program that has funded millions of dollars of innovative research in San Diego, and allocates $1.6 billion for a border wall, including $251 million earmarked for 14 miles of secondary fencing in San Diego County. Because the Republican controlled Congress has not passed a budget that raises the spending limits on the Department of Defense, signing this bill into law would result in arbitrary, across-the-board sequester cuts on the Department of Defense starting with the new fiscal year in September.
Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, has said about the impending sequester, “It’s headed toward a colossal crackup. They are passing a bill that will be null and void in order to both say, ‘I didn’t vote to lift the caps, and I did vote for more defense spending.’ This is an enormous waste of time, all because they don’t want to honestly address the issue.”
The bill also completely eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which supports early-stage, cutting edge energy technology research. UC San Diego has received 21 ARPA-E grants totaling $15 million over just the last five years including for projects to increase grid security and efficiency. Last year, Achates Power in Sorrento Valley received the largest award ARPA-E has ever given, a $9 million grant to make an innovative, more efficient combustion engine. Since 2009, ARPA-E has provided $1.5 billion in funding to more than 580 projects that have led to the formation of 56 new companies, spawned 68 projects with other government agencies including the Department of Defense, and attracted more than $1.8 billion in additional private sector investment.
Rep. Scott Peters released the following statement:
“I will not vote to tie the hands of the Department of Defense as it counters new and dynamic threats around the world.
“This bill is an illusion. It will be invalidated and replaced with devastating cuts unless Congress does it job and passes a budget that allows for robust defense spending.
“This wrong-headed bill will also eliminate ARPA-E, a tremendously successful program that has funded millions of dollars of cutting edge energy research at UC San Diego and San Diego companies. This research has led to job-creating private sector investment and discoveries that gave our military new technology. Eliminating this program doesn’t just hurt San Diego’s innovation economy, it takes a tool away from our military and surrenders American leadership in energy innovation.
“All you have to know about the priorities in this bill is that it eliminates this energy program, and instead spends six times as much as that program costs on a border wall that doesn’t have a final price tag or a purpose.
“I have voted for every defense spending and authorization bill since I came to Congress, and I supported this year’s authorization, but I will not advance this broken process that could lead to a disastrous sequester. Congress needs to get back to work and pass a budget to avoid across the board cuts on our military and make the investments in technology and readiness that our service members need.”