Sasse Calls on Senate to Double DARPA Funding


Washington, D.C. (May 18, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke on the Senate floor regarding his amendment to the bipartisan Endless Frontiers Act to double funding for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in order to compete with the Chinese Communist Party. Sasse’s amendment to fund DARPA at $7 billion a year for the next five years is available here.

Sasse’s full remarks are available below.

Winston Churchill is often credited with the apocryphal quote that “we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” It’s true, but the 21st century has gotten more complicated. Our wars are hybrid wars. Fewer D-Days on enemy beaches and more Zero-Day exploits in enemy servers.

Americans sleep soundly because, in addition to the “rough men” at the ready, brilliant men and women work around the clock to develop critical national security technology that defends our interests and undermines our enemies. DARPA – the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – is on the frontlines of that critical work. They’re racing against our adversaries.

Our struggle against the Chinese Communist Party is the defining national security challenge of our time. Chairman Xi and his techno-authoritarian regime are fundamentally opposed to America’s values and interests. American politicians might like to ignore this reality, but I assure my colleagues that the CCP is not asleep at the switch.

Beijing is aggressively investing in automated machine learning, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. They’re hacking and stealing America’s research and intellectual property. The Chinese Communist Party is on a mission and they’re not hiding it. They want to become the world’s preeminent super-power and they think that, by claiming first-mover advantage in the cyber domain, they can achieve it. We can’t let that happen.

My amendment is simple, it doubles DARPA’s budget, from $3.5 billion to $7 billion, for each of the next five years. The work of the National Science Foundation is important. I support that research. But the NSF’s research is broad. DARPA’s research is directly applied to our most critical national security challenges.

Cutting edge classified tech development is in DARPA’s DNA. When we talk about identifying and disrupting the CCP’s AI-enabled cyber and information campaigns, we want DARPA to lead that work. When we talk about developing technological tools to push back on CCP hybrid warfare, we want DARPA to lead that work.

If we want American democracy to outlast Chinese techno-authoritarianism – we can make this investment. Doubling DARPA’s budget is a cost-effective investment that bolsters the work of Endless Frontiers and I encourage all my colleagues to support this.

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