Tester Pushes for Robust Resources for Military Research in First Hearing as Defense Chair

Chairman: “when it comes to federal funding priorities, few things are more important than innovation and research”

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Jon Tester convened a hearing with Department of Defense (DoD) leaders to discuss the agency’s innovation and research work and assess how the Pentagon is keeping up with the international community in military technology development. This was Tester’s first hearing as Chair of the Subcommittee.

“When it comes to federal funding priorities, few things are more important than innovation and research, and it’s critical for Congress to continue to make strong research investments across the board,” said Chairman Tester. “We need good information about the global race for innovation-in particular, as we compete with China and Russia. I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to strengthen Department of Defense’s innovation efforts and to make sure it has the tools and resources it needs to work with various partners across the country, including small businesses, who can often bring fresh ideas, nimble operations and cutting edge inventions to the table.”

At the hearing, Tester questioned Barbara McQuiston, who is Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), about America’s competitiveness in defense innovation on the global stage as well as about the Biden Administration’s priorities in its upcoming budget request.

Senator Tester’s hearing provided important congressional oversight on how the Pentagon is using $107 billion in research and development funding provided in December’s government spending bills. This level of spending for innovation is an all-time high for the Department of Defense. These investments support the innovation, development, and modernization of technologies used by the military to maintain America’s global strategic advantage and ensures that American servicewomen and men have the tools and resources they need to safeguard our national defense. While the Biden Administration provided a budget blueprint for $715 billion in military spending in 2022, the details of what that plan means for innovation has not yet been released.

Additionally, DoD research often leads to breakthroughs in the civilian world: cutting-edge technologies like the Internet and the science leading to the development of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines began with research conducted through the Department.

Tester’s position as Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee provides him with a powerful position with jurisdiction over national defense and intelligence spending, including for Montana’s military installations. The Subcommittee is responsible for providing nearly $700 billion annually to the Department of Defense and related agencies. This is more than 95 percent of the military’s yearly budget, and includes matters ranging from pay and benefits for millions of service members and civilians to the development of advanced technologies and next-generation weapons. The Subcommittee also oversees funding for nearly all major U.S. intelligence agencies.