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House Overwhelmingly Approves NASA Reauthorization Act

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

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Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 by a vote of 409 to15. This legislation is a one-year reauthorization for Fiscal Year 2009 and is intended to provide guidance to the next administration. The current NASA authorization expires September 30, 2008.

H.R. 6063 was introduced on May 15, 2008 by Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) and passed the House Science and Technology Committee unanimously on June 4, 2008. This bipartisan legislation was originally cosponsored by the Science and Technology Committee's Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL).

"The bipartisan consensus we have reached on H.R. 6063 signals that Congress believes a balanced NASA program of science, aeronautics, and human spaceflight and exploration is important and worthy of the nation's support," said Gordon. "Yet, I want to emphasize that H.R. 6063 takes a fiscally-responsible approach to providing that support."

"This bill passed the Committee on Science and Technology and the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics with unanimous support. It represents a strong bipartisan effort to ensure our continued leadership in space and aeronautics and to ensure that NASA's programs contribute to our science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts, to the nation's innovation agenda, and to practical benefits for our citizens," said Udall.

"By increasing our investment in NASA, we are putting the United States on a course to remain a world leader in innovation and economic competitiveness," said Subcommittee Vice Chairman Melancon (D-LA). "The discoveries and advancements made by NASA research ripple through many sectors of our economy, moving our nation forward and benefiting all Americans."

H.R. 6063 emphasizes the importance of NASA leadership in Earth observations and research, as well as aeronautics R&D to address critical national needs. This bill reaffirms that NASA should remain a multi-mission agency with a balanced portfolio and encompasses recommendations from the 16 hearings the Committee held throughout this Congress to review the many components of NASA's program. This legislation authorizes $20.21 billion for NASA's Fiscal Year 2009 budget.

Of the total amount, the baseline authorization of $19.21 billion will go to support science, aeronautics, exploration, education, space operations, inspector general, and cross-agency support. The baseline authorization represents only an inflationary increase of 2.8 percent over the FY 2008 authorization enacted in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. The additional $1 billon is to accelerate the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), which will replace the current Space Shuttle. The additional funding will help narrow the projected five-year gap in the ability of the U.S. to get its astronauts into space after the Shuttle is retired.

"NASA has accomplished a great deal in both space and aeronautical R&D over the past five decades, and we can all take pride in what has been accomplished. However, we cannot become complacent," added Udall. "The testimony and constructive input of countless hearing witnesses, outside experts, and organizations that led to H.R. 6063 conveyed a consistent message: that NASA has not been given the funding it needs to successfully carry out all of the important tasks that the nation has asked of it. If we fail to invest adequately in NASA now, it is unlikely that we will see a comparable record of accomplishment over the next five decades--at a great opportunity cost to the nation."

Now H.R. 6063 will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

For more information about H.R. 6063, please visit the Committee's website.

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