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Senate Passes Mikulski-Hutchison Amendment to Add $1 Billion in NASA Funding

Press Release From: Sen. Hutchison
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2007

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Science, Spaceflight Programs at Risk after Return to Flight Efforts

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Sciences, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the Chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriation (CJS) Subcommittee, today passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 CJS appropriations bill to provide $1 billion in additional funding for NASA. The funding will reimburse the agency for costs incurred for returning the Space Shuttle to flight status following the Columbia disaster and implementing recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

"My amendment will compensate NASA for the costs of returning to flight and restore funding for key research areas such as space science, earth science, life and microgravity sciences and aeronautics research," Sen. Hutchison said. "It will also help close the gap between when the Space Shuttle is retired and the next exploration vehicle is launched. With China, India and other countries moving forward with manned spaceflight, the stakes are too high for America to lose its edge as the world leader in space exploration."

Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Mel Martinez (R-FL), Ken Salazar (D-CO), and David Vitter (R-LA) are also original cosponsors.

"NASA shouldn't have to play a shell game of shifting funds from one area to another in order to get by," Sen. Hutchison said. "NASA performed its duty superbly when it returned the Space Shuttle to flight; however, NASA's core scientific mission has suffered since then due to the lack of funding."

Sen. Hutchison believes that this $1 billion investment in NASA will yield enormous economic benefit for the American economy. NASA research shows that "each dollar invested in space programs yields up to nine dollars in new products, technologies and processes on Earth."

Congress passed a similar measure in 1986 that provided NASA funding following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. The amendment introduced today appropriates $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 to a new "Return to Flight" account to reimburse NASA for the costs of returning the Space Shuttle to flight and to fund significant science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut to pay for repairs.

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