Senator Murray: Our Investments in the Department of Commerce Essential to Our Competitiveness and Country’s Future


***WATCH: Senator Murray’s questioning of Secretary Raimondo***


Washington, D.C. — Today—at a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of Commerce—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke about how essential the work the Department does is to our country’s competitiveness and success. In opening comments, she underscored that Congress must deliver vital resources for its work by providing sufficient non-defense funding in fiscal year 2025:


“You know, the investments that we make in the Department of Commerce are so important to our economy, our national competitiveness, and our national security—as you were just talking about [Secretary Raimondo].


“They really help make sure that we have a thriving workforce and growing businesses, strong supply chains, trade relationships, high-speed internet in every zip code in America, reliable information about our weather, healthy salmon populations and hatcheries, and of course, cutting edge research, as you well know, and manufacturing in critical industries, like advanced manufacturing, clean energy, quantum computing—so much more.


“And we know that our adversaries like the Chinese government are doing everything they can to get ahead in those fields.


“We know they are not cutting their investments in the future or leaving them on autopilot. And that means that we cannot afford to do that either, which means we can't leave domestic spending behind in fiscal year ‘25. We are working with very tight, inadequate spending limits. And as I have said repeatedly, as we talk about how to address those inadequacies for defense, we have to do the same for non-defense.


“Because our competitiveness and our country's future depend on it. We have to write strong bills for the year ahead, because if we leave our families behind, then our competitors are going to leave us behind before too long.


“So I appreciate the work you're doing. And as a reminder to all my colleagues, we need to make sure we're funding the non-defense side as well as the defense side.”


Secretary Gina Raimondo affirmed the importance of robust investments in Commerce and here at home in her response to Senator Murray’s first question: “The way to compete with China and outcompete China is to invest in America. There’s only so much we can do to hold them back. By hold them back, I mean, deny them our technology, for example. We need to invest in everything you're talking about. If every American has good job training, good jobs, good manufacturing, good broadband, that’s how we out-compete. So I strongly support your leadership around focusing on domestic investments.”


Senator Murray asked Secretary Raimondo about the importance of maintaining robust funding for Mitchell Act Hatcheries—and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) role in supporting them and supporting salmon recovery, stating: “Salmon, as you well know, are foundational to Washington State's economy and cultural heritage.”


Secretary Raimondo noted that: “As you well know, this [salmon] is a way of life for Tribes, not to mention their livelihood. I would say that without the money, we won't be able to maintain salmon population.”


Senator Murray shared her serious concerns about issues with NOAA’s payment system, which she noted has held up desperately-needed funding for fishery disaster declarations, and Secretary Raimondo acknowledged the problems, noted they are getting resolved, and committed to keep working on it. Senator Murray also asked Secretary Raimondo for a commitment to keep her apprised of NOAA’s plan to modernize its outdated facilities in Seattle, which employs the largest number of NOAA staff outside of Washington, DC—which Secretary Raimondo pledged to do.