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Press Releases :: March 2, 2011

Committee Democrats Caution Against Start-Stop Approach to NASA’s Funding and Goals

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held ahearing to discuss the Administration’s FY 2012 budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with Charles F. Bolden,  Administrator of NASA. 

This was the Congress’s first opportunity to review the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for NASA and arrives at a time of very difficult budgetary issues, with the appropriations for FY 2011 still undecided.  “I can only imagine the challenges you are facing, Mr. Administrator, in trying to plan and carry out the challenging activities that the nation has asked you to undertake when the budgetary sands keep shifting under you” said Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  Expressing concern about the current budgetary standstill, Congresswoman Johnson said “I hope that we are able to resolve our current appropriations impasse soon, but I also hope that an agreement doesn’t come at the expense of the critical investments this nation needs to make to prepare for the future.  I consider NASA to be one of those critical investments.”

While expressing strong support for the President and admiration for Mr. Bolden’s leadership, Congresswoman Johnson said that she was disappointed with the request, especially in light of all the work that Congress undertook last year to forge a constructive path forward for the nation’s space program.  “I had thought that the Administration agreed with the compromise that was enacted into law, but I am afraid that I do not see it reflected in the proposed NASA budget request.  The request cuts NASA’s overall budget plan and its human exploration budget even further than before, delays the development of the next generation vehicles, and eliminates any concrete destinations or milestones beyond the International Space Station.   That is an unfortunate situation for a number of reasons, but its most damaging impact will be on both our existing highly skilled workforce and on the young people who have been inspired by NASA to dream of careers in science and technology.  The start-stop approach to funding and goals that we have seen over the past several years can only cause us to lose the best and brightest of both groups, and they are not going to be easily replaced.”

Offering a path forward, Congresswoman Johnson told Administrator Bolden that “the most constructive approach for all of us here is to consider the budget request that you will present today as the beginning of the discussion, not the end.  We are going to need you to tell us what you can do with your budget to meet the human spaceflight goals that have been set forth in successive NASA Authorization Acts—not simply tell us what you can’t do.  And if additional resources are needed to realize those goals, we need to know that too.”

Pledging to work with the NASA Administrator and the Chairman of the Committee, Ralph M. Hall, to ensure that NASA continues to instill pride, inspire by pushing back the frontiers of knowledge through exploring and living in space, advance science and engineering, and develop innovative technologies, Congresswoman Johnson urged the Nation and NASA not to rest on its past laurels.  She said “Sustained investments in research, technology, and development must be made.  Without this sustained investment in the years ahead, NASA will be hard-pressed to foster innovation needed to inspire our younger generations to pursue scientific and technical careers.  That would be a shame.”


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