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Member Speeches :: September 29, 2010

Chairman Gordon's Floor Statement on S. 3729, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010

Mr. Speaker, in his FY 2011 budget request, the President proposed a number of initiatives for NASA in the coming years, many of which I and my colleagues support.   However, after extensive hearings and oversight, we reluctantly came to the conclusion that both the current Constellation program and the president’s proposed human space flight plan are unexecutable under the current and projected budgets.

For too long, the mission hasn’t matched the money at NASA, and I am unwilling to let that practice continue.  As a result, an alternative approach was needed that would be executable and affordable, and both the House and Senate authorizing committees have spent the major part of this year working on a NASA Reauthorization bill. 

The bill before us today represents the results of the Senate’s efforts. The House Science and Technology Committee marked up its version in late July, and we have spent the last several months in discussions with the Senate to come up with Compromise language that would incorporate the best of both bills.  Last week, I released bipartisan Compromise language that reflects those discussions as well as constructive input from colleagues here in the House.  I have a number of concerns about the Senate bill, which I’ve enumerated. 

It has become clear that there is not time remaining to pass a bill incorporating the Compromise language through the House and the Senate before the start of the election recess.

For the sake of providing a degree of certainty, stability, and clarity to the NASA workforce and larger space community, I felt it was better to consider a flawed bill than no bill at all as the new fiscal year begins.

Thus, despite its flaws, I will vote to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill.  However, I see today’s floor consideration to be only one more step in crafting a sustainable, affordable, and productive future path for NASA.  To that end, I plan to continue to advocate to the Appropriators for the provisions in the Compromise language.  I believe that the Compromise language provides a solid basis for NASA’s future activities.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a difficult year for NASA and its civil servants and contractor workforce.  We are in tough economic times, and sacrifices will have to be made.  However, NASA is an investment in our future, and in the future of our children.  The United States has been a global leader in space exploration and technology and innovation, and our efforts over the remainder of this Congress should be aimed at preserving that leadership position.  With that, I encourage the House to pass this suspension and I reserve the balance of my time.


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