Blackburn, Colleagues Secure Amendment to Invest $17 Billion in National Laboratories and DOE Facilities

May 13, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In executive session of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology, U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) led the passage of an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act to invest $17 billion in Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories and User Facilities. This amendment will help support the entire U.S. innovation system, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and strengthen America’s global competitiveness.

“The Department of Energy’s seventeen national labs have played a crucial role in shaping American innovative leadership. Tennessee is honored to be home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory since 1943.  This measure will help ensure we continue to invest and support the critical scientific innovation done at ORNL,” Senator Blackburn said.

“Our National Laboratories are on the forefront of science, technology, and innovation, and I was proud to work across the aisle to advance this amendment to invest $17 billion in the Department of Energy and our National Labs. This amendment will also increase coordination and strengthen the role of the Department of Energy in the interagency working group created by the Endless Frontier Act,” said Luján, a former Co-Chair of the National Labs Caucus. “I will continue to look for opportunities to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bolster American innovation and support new jobs and opportunities.”

“One of the best ways for our nation to strengthen our competitiveness with the rest of the world would be to enhance a crown jewel of American innovation: the incredible network of Department of Energy National Labs, particularly Illinois’ own Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory,” Senator Duckworth said. “I’m proud to have worked with Senator Luján to pass our important bipartisan amendment that helps ensure the Endless Frontier Act invests in the National Science Foundation and enhances our National Labs, which are critical drivers of American innovation and capable of advancing even more groundbreaking scientific research and discovery.”

“It was critically important to me that legislation highlighting scientific research also recognize the contribution of our national labs,” Senator Capito said. “The men and women at our labs, including the National Energy Technology Lab in Morgantown, are and have been at the forefront of the most significant achievements of our time, from the Manhattan project to developing the coronavirus vaccine. Further empowering and enhancing their capabilities, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, benefits all of us in the area of global competition.”

The Endless Frontier Act seeks to advance and solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation through increased investments in the discovery, creation, and manufacturing of technology critical to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness.

The amendment is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).