Mikulski Announces $17.5 Billion for NASA, Maryland Space Initiatives in Spending Bill


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced the fiscal year 2008 spending bill provides almost $17.5 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is $150 million above the President's budget request.

"There is simply too much pressure on NASA's budget - now and in the future," said Senator Mikulski. "The only way to reduce the pressure on the budget, and maintain a balanced space program, is to increase our federal commitment to NASA and our national space program."

The bill fully funds the President's budget request for Space Shuttle operations ($4 billion) and Space Station operations ($2.2 billion). The bill also provides $3.9 billion for development of the next generation Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV, called Ares) and Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV, called Orion).

In addition, the bill provides $5.66 billion for NASA's science programs. Earth science is funded at $1.6 billion and includes $25 million for studies to begin implementing the recently released National Research Council's Decadal Survey, "Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nations," which called for 14 high priority NASA earth science missions. The bill provides full funding for the continued development of the James Webb Space Telescope, and for the Hubble Servicing Mission scheduled for September 2008. The bill also includes $554 million for aeronautics research.

Senator Mikulski also secured $11.5 million for space and exploration projects in Maryland:

$4 million for the Chesapeake Information Based Aeronautics Consortium, an aeronautics consortium made up of Morgan State University, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The consortium works on NASA's aviation safety and security program by helping the agency develop synthetic vision systems to improve safety for commercial airliners.

$3 million for the Maryland Institute for Dextrous Robotics at the University of Maryland at College Park, which is devoted to creating a new generation of robots and robotic technology for space exploration.

$2 million for the Institute for Nano-Bio Technology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which researches and applies nanotechnology to biomedicine and medical devices. Future space exploration will require revolutionary new medical technology for diagnosing and treating diseases.

$2 million for the University of Maryland Baltimore County for their environmental remote sensing program.

$250,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Institute for Space Technology (MIST) in Pocomoke City for Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAV) testing and certification.

$250,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), at the Wallops Flight Facility on Maryland's Eastern Shore, for infrastructure improvements to launch facilities.

The 2008 CJS spending bill emphasizes congressional oversight, accountability and fiscal stewardship. The bill requires each agency to notify the Committee immediately after learning of program cost overruns greater than 10 percent. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is directed to conduct biannual reports of programs and projects greater than $100 million to identify cost overruns and mismanagement. The bill also requires that Inspectors General conduct audits of grant funding.

Chairwoman Mikulski instituted criteria for all congressionally designated projects in this year's spending bill, requiring that they be specifically focused on the mission and mandate of the organization. The CJS bill substantially reduces earmarks, and all projects in the bill comply with the requirements of the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act (S. 1), as passed by the Senate.

Senator Mikulski, CJS Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Appropriations Committee member Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Science and Space Subcommittee on the Senate Commerce Committee, today also pledged to introduce an amendment when the bill reaches the Senate floor to provide $1 billion in federal funding to pay back NASA for the costs of returning the Space Shuttle to flight. The funding will also reimburse critical science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut to pay for repairs. The amendment was included in the 2007 CJS spending bill, but the bill was never brought up for a vote in the 109th Congress.

"NASA was hit with two tragedies - the loss of Columbia and Hurricane Katrina. The agency was never fully reimbursed in either incident, and was forced to make dramatic cuts to other programs," said Senator Mikulski. "I am committed to restoring NASA's budget to ensure the continued safety of our astronauts, and to supporting the critical programs that are the hallmarks of their success." The spending bill passed the full Appropriations Committee this afternoon. In the next step of the appropriations process, the bill will move to the Senate floor for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled. For more information on the CJS spending bill, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/Newsroom/releases.cfm.

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