Peters Introduces Budget Amendments to Boost Michigan’s Economy

Amendments Would Promote Investments in Infrastructure, Eliminate the Patent Backlog and Promote Scientific Research

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced three amendments to the budget resolution currently being debated in the Senate to build support for efforts to boost Michigan’s economy and lay the groundwork for critical investments to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.

Peters’ first amendment would create a framework to boost exports and support more efficient international trade and travel at America’s ports of entry, as well as support construction and increased staffing at critical ports of entry. This amendment would support efforts at the U.S.-Canada border to modernize the customs plaza at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron and construct and staff the New International Trade Crossing in Detroit. Travel and tourism support economic development, generating more than $2 trillion in economic impact and supporting nearly 15 million jobs nationwide.

“Trade and travel help drive economic development and create jobs in our communities, but our nation’s crumbling infrastructure puts those economic benefits at risk,” said Senator Peters. “We need to invest in modern infrastructure that can efficiently and securely move goods and people through our busiest ports of entry. This amendment will help promote increased exports and tourism through updated infrastructure like our airports, seaports and international border crossings and sufficient staffing so that travelers and goods are screened in a safe and timely manner.”

Peters’ second amendment would initiate a process to provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) greater access to the fees it receives in order to reduce the patent application backlog. As of February 2015, the USPTO had a backlog of more than 600,000 patent applications with an average review time of more than two years before applications were granted patent protection. Peters’ amendment would allow the USPTO to hire the additional examiners and administrative patent judges to reduce the backlog.

“Innovators rely on patent protections as they market their inventions or expand their businesses, but the USPTO’s backlog creates a barrier that can stifle innovation,” said Senator Peters. “This amendment will help remove this barrier so that inventors and entrepreneurs can continue to develop their ideas, grow their businesses and create jobs. One of my top priorities in the Senate is to grow our economy, and this amendment will help make sure small businesses and entrepreneurs have every opportunity to succeed.”

Peters’ third amendment would provide the ability to Congress to increase investments in science, technology and basic research during the appropriations process to ensure the United States continues to be a global leader in science and technology. Federal funding accounts for nearly 30 percent of total research and development funding, and 60 percent of research and development funding for academia. Overall research and development spending has fallen below 1 percent of national GDP, limiting investments in U.S. science and technology research. Peters’ amendment would promote responsible investments in basic research to help ensure the U.S. continues to be a leader in science and technology in an increasingly competitive world.

“Investments in scientific discovery and basic research have generated countless innovations that improve our everyday lives and support our nation’s productivity and competitiveness,” said Senator Peters. “This amendment will help make critical investments in scientific research that will continue to educate a world-class, highly-skilled workforce, promote economic security and drive American competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

Peters is a member the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and serves as the Ranking Member on the Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee where he works to promote Michigan’s advanced manufacturing industry, emphasize the high-tech research and development conducted at Michigan’s world-class colleges and universities, and bolster Michigan’s role as a hub for innovation and economic growth in scientific fields.