Chu blasts House GOP efforts to slash energy-research funding

That includes cuts of more than $800 million from the department’s science budget and more than $700 million from the department’s renewable-energy and energy-efficiency budget when compared to enacted fiscal year 2010 levels.

Chu called on lawmakers negotiating a deal on a final government-spending package to spare the department’s research-and-development budget.

“I would hope that Congress would appreciate the fact that the research-and-development budget is vital for our future prosperity,” he said.

The money is essential for ensuring the United States is competitive in developing batteries to be used in electric vehicles and solar panels, Chu said.

“The rest of the world recognizes that there is a race and this is within grasp,” he said.

Chu also defended the Obama administration’s proposal to cut a low-income heating assistance program by $2.5 billion in his fiscal year 2012 budget request.

“You don’t want to ever propose something like this,” Chu said. “Given the austerity in the budget situation, you can’t just continue to pay for the weatherization of low-income housing.”