Hultgren Says Fermilab Cuts Go Too Deep
U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren spoke to attendees at an Eggs & Issues event sponsored by the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Batavia MainStreet on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren said the proposed cuts affecting the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are simply too much.
As a member of the Science, Space and Technology committee, Hultgren said he is in a good place to fight for Fermilab, which is in the 14th Congressional District. He spoke on Tuesday to a group of mostly business owners at the Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva.
Hultgren is making rounds in his district during this week's congressional recess. He is the latest in a line of local politicians speaking out against the science cuts, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Click here to read Durbin's reaction to the proposed cuts.
Congress will consider a 20 percent funding drop to the Office of Science budget, one that would require Fermilab to cut 400 employees, furlough all remaining staff for two months and suspend experiments. To read more about the possible Fermilab cuts, click here.
Responding to the first question after his initial remarks, one posed by a Fermilab employee, Hultgren acknowledged that he cannot ask other legislators to make cuts to programs in their districts and not expect reductions to programs in this district.
Hultgren understand cuts must be made, but no one has to "take an ax" to places like Fermilab.
“I think 20 percent is too much, maybe 5 percent," he said of the funding cut. "We need to be fair and reasonable ... I am a fan of Fermilab, and I want to see it still vibrant 20 to 30 years from now.”
After the morning’s discussion, Hultgren’s office released a statement concerning Fermilab:
"The Continuing Resolution approved by the House does impose cuts on Fermilab and other Department of Energy facilities, as it does on almost every federal agency," Hultgren said in the statement. "However, we can't lose sight of the fact that the Administration and the Department of Energy are unfairly targeting High-Energy Physics programs and facilities for cuts in their FY2012 budget.
Last week, I had the opportunity to question the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the answers he gave me regarding cuts to the High-Energy Physics program in the Administration’s budget were unacceptable. I look forward to using my position on the Science, Space & Technology Committee to work with and fight for Fermilab and the jobs it provides for this region."
Wide-Eyed In Washington
Prior to getting into the nitty-gritty of current issues, Hultgren told the breakfast crowd of 115 about his first impressions of the House.
He said the differences between state government and federal government really struck him during orientation. The Sergeant at Arms directed the freshmen members to look under their seats for a gas mask should it become necessary.
The congressman mentioned that last week’s 90 hours of budgetary debate, resulting in the House’s passage of H.R.1 (Continuing Appropriations Act) only scratched the surface of what needs to be done.
“I am frustrated that no budget was passed,” Hultgren said. “But it was an enlightening week, with real progress made toward shrinking the size of the federal budget.”
Hultgren also said he was committed to being accessible to his constituents, despite the recent shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona while making a public appearance.
He told the business-heavy group he believes that hiring from small- to mid-sized companies is critical to the economic turnaround.
“I understand they are scared to hire because of the uncertainties of health care, taxes and regulation,” Hultgren said. “These are issues that must be addressed.”
The gathering held at Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva was sponsored by Batavia Chamber of Commerce, Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Batavia MainStreet.