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Rep Boehlert's Floor Statement on S. 1713

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

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October 26, 2005

Mr. Chairman:

I rise in strong support of this amended version of S. 1713. Let me start by thanking Mr. Hyde and Mr. Lantos for working so cooperatively with us for so long on this issue, which is of great concern to both our Committees, and over which both of our Committees have jurisdiction.

I also want to thank Mr. Calvert, the chairman of our Space Subcommittee, who, as always, has helped to keep our eye on the ball and has pressed to make sure we got this done. Mr. Calvert’s predecessor, Mr. Rohrabacher, who serves on both Committees, played a similarly dogged role. All of us have co-sponsored the bill before us today.

Finally, I want to thank the Administration, including NASA and the State Department and the National Security Council, for being willing to consider a variety of approaches. And I want to thank my ranking Democrat, Mr. Gordon, for being a thoughtful participant as we examined different ways to deal with this issue.

The puzzle we had to solve in dealing with the Iran Nonproliferation Act was how to enable the U.S. to continue to man the International Space Station without reducing our vigilance with regard to non-proliferation. I have been clear all along that, for me, maintaining non-proliferation is a far more important goal than is continuing to have Americans aboard the Space Station.

But from the point of view of space policy, we had another goal here, too.

We wanted to make sure that Russia – or any other foreign nation – could not bring our space program to a screeching halt – or whatever the equivalent would be in the vacuum of space. Therefore, we wanted to try to write this bill in a way that would create an incentive for NASA to contract with new suppliers that would not be dependent on foreign technology to get U.S. personnel or supplies to and from the station.

These are all tough goals – goals that have their critics, goals that create winners and losers, goals that seek to balance competing national needs. And I think with this version of the Iran Nonproliferation Act, we’ve come as close as anyone possibly could to accomplishing all our goals.

The bill enables the U.S. to continue to use the ISS unimpeded. The bill, in effect, allows the status quo to continue until 2012, when, presumably, the U.S. will have access to a new Crew Exploration Vehicle to carry astronauts, and commercial firms to move cargo. We’ll see if the budget enables that to actually happen on that schedule, but it’s a plausible position.

The bill encourages NASA to find commercial firms that are not dependent on the Russians to carry cargo in the future by setting a specific end date for our current relationship with the Russians.

And the bill minimizes the harm to the non-proliferation regime by requiring the Act to be reviewed again in 2012, by making it clear that no individual entity that violates the Act can receive U.S. money, by adding Syria to the countries listed in the Act, and by requiring clear reporting of payments under the Act.

The Senate deserves credit for moving all parties toward compromise, and our version, I would say, perfects their compromise, by adding Syria and by making it clear that 2012 is a true deadline. Under our bill, no U.S. funds can be used in violation of the Iran Nonproliferation Act after 2012 – even if the funds are made available before 2012 and even if they are made available pursuant to an agreement that existed before 2012.

So I think we’re where we have to be on this bill. We’re going to protect the space program while protecting the world from nuclear weapons. These issues are never easy, and non-proliferation necessarily involves a lot of guess-work about what is and isn’t working. But this is a responsible, thoughtful compromise.

In closing let me again thank the Members of the International Relations Committee and their staff, particularly Walker Roberts, for working so cooperatively with us and for continuing to push for tighter but reasonable language. And I want to thank our staff, particularly Bill Adkins, for ensuring that we always took into account all the implications of proposed language.

I urge my colleagues to support this measure, which incorporates a truly thoughtful and effective compromise.

Thank you.

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