Udall: House NASA Budget a Step in the Right Direction


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(Washington, DC) House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) issued the following statement today following passage by the House of H.R. 3093, the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill for 2008, which contains appropriations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

"As Chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology, I am pleased that the House has passed an appropriations bill that includes $17.6 billion for NASA funding. NASA's work in human space exploration, space and earth science, and aeronautics plays an important role in advancing our knowledge, expanding our economy and inspiring Americans both young and old. I believe NASA performs important research which allows us to better understand our climate, our planet and the universe beyond. While this funding level does not reach the amount authorized under the 2005 NASA Reauthorization Act, it will help balance NASA's many responsibilities and represents a step forward in tight budget times.

I am encouraged that the bill increases funding for several directorates, including science, education, and aeronautics. I am especially encouraged that the Committee recognized the recommendations of the National Research Council's recent Decadal Survey on Earth Science by targeting $60 million towards the highest priority missions recommended in that Survey, as well as ensuring that work on critical climate instruments that were de-manifested from the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) can continue. These are areas that have been highlighted in several hearings this year before the Science and Technology Committee.

This bill also provides significant funding for the President's exploration initiative at NASA by providing the President's full request of $3.9 billion. I support the President's Vision for Space Exploration and believe human space exploration is a worthwhile undertaking. The funding in this bill will keep the Crew Exploration Vehicle on track in FY 2008. However, I am concerned that the Administration's current plan for the shuttle replacement system, the crew exploration vehicle (CEV), is not scheduled to be finished until 2015. This will leave a potential four to five year gap when the United States will be dependent on other countries to travel to and from the International Space Station. It is within the Administration's power to send over budget requests in FY 2009 and FY 2010 to address this gap within the context of a balanced overall NASA program, and I hope that the Administration will do so.

The bill provides $6.7 billion for space operations, which is a $100 million cut relative to the President's request. I understand that this decrease represents the difficult decisions that House must make, but I am concerned about the impact that these cuts will have on the International Space Station's reserves posture, as well as on the upcoming Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) procurement. I hope that it will be possible to address these problems when the House and Senate move to conference on this legislation.

Overall, I am pleased that the NASA budget passed by the House will help the Administrator accomplish NASA's many objectives over the next year."

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