Department of Commerce (DoC) Secretary Gina Raimondo warned members of Congress this week 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 House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday afternoon that proposals to cut funding as much as 22 percent for departments across the board – such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (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 hearing on President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request for the DoC.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said that while he supports the department’s mission, “we’ve seen unsustainable growth and government spending that cannot be continued in good faith.”

On the other hand, subcommittee Ranking Member Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., said he is “greatly concerned” by the proposals from House Republicans to cut funding.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the ranking member of the full committee, joined in Rep. Cartwright’s concern. The chairwoman warned that much of the progress DoC has made thus far – including the CHIPS and Science Act’s work to restore U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing – “can very well be at risk” due to her colleagues calling for “extreme cuts to government funding.”

“All these cuts would endanger our national security by reducing our efforts to enforce export controls, including those that keep goods and sensitive defense technologies away from our adversaries,” Rep. DeLauro said. “They would weaken our economic competitiveness by reducing our capacity to promote trade and investment and, if implemented, the programs that create stronger communities and better-paying jobs across the nation would be dramatically reduced.”

During his questioning, Rep. Cartwright referenced a study from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which found that China leads the United States in 37 of 44 critical technology fields.

In response, Raimondo stressed that U.S. leadership will not improve in those critical technology fields if DoC’s budget is cut by 22 percent.

“If we continue to invest, we will prevail,” Raimondo said. “I mean, the work we’re doing now with the CHIPS Act, the work we’re doing with the Tech Hubs – we can win. We should win. We have the best workers in the world, the best minds in the world, but we have to invest in our technology, in our people.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.