IFPTE Letter to Sen. Mikulski and Rep. Mollohan Regarding NASA Appropriations

Press Release From: IFPTE
Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Chair, Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Sub-Committee
144 Dirksen Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Alan Mollohan
Chair, Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Sub-Committee
H-310, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairpersons Mikulski and Mollohan:

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) largest federal employee Union, greatly appreciates your efforts, and those of your colleagues on the House and Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations sub-committee, who have thoughtfully crafted bills that judiciously increase NASA's Appropriations above the inadequate levels in the President's proposed budget (PB), that revitalize NASA's Science and Aeronautics Research programs while keeping NASA's human spaceflight programs on track, and that protect and defend NASA's highly-skilled and dedicated technical workforce. Both the House and Senate Appropriators have done a terrific job under the challenging constraints imposed by severe fiscal pressures and by a veto-threatening President.

Over the last few years, NASA has been charged with a dramatic increase in its human spaceflight responsibilities from the President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) without a commensurate increase in its budget. When President Kennedy tasked NASA to build a new set of spacecrafts to get humans to the moon and back safely, he and Congress provided the appropriate resources: the equivalent of a $30 billion dollar annual budget (in inflation corrected dollars) during the years of Apollo design, testing, and development. We are encouraged by the fact that Chairmen Bart Gordon and Bill Nelson's pending fiscal year 2009 (FY09) NASA Re-Authorization bill highlights the hard fact that NASA actually needs a minimum budget of $20 billion just to accomplish the full set of critical missions that Congress and the President have already assigned to it. We are also greatly heartened by Senator Obama's recent direct appeal to Congressional leaders to renew Congress' commitment to properly fund NASA. We therefore have the audacity to hope that the next President's FY10 budget will indeed provide more than $20 billion for NASA.

While we wait for a new President who will fully understand the critical role that NASA plays for the nation and who will provide the leadership necessary to unite the nation behind an enhanced investment in NASA's Space and Earth Sciences, Aeronautics Research, Technology Development, and Space Exploration, the IFPTE urges CJS Appropriators to provide $17.814 billion (the Senate level, $199.8 million more than the PB and $504.6 million above FY08 enacted level) to NASA in FY09 and, more specifically, to reconcile your respective Appropriations bills by providing:

  • $4,522,884,000 for Science (Senate level, $81.4 million above PB),
  • $3,505,686,000 for Exploration Systems (House level, $5.2 million above PB),
  • $515,000,000 for Aeronautics Research (House level, $68.5 million above PB),
  • $5,774,710,000 for Space Operations (Senate level, equal to PB),
  • $130,012,000 for Education (Senate level, $14.4 million above PB)
  • $3,332,108,000 for Cross-Agency Programs, including Congressional Priorities,
  • $33,600,000 for the Inspector General (House level).

Furthermore, given the bipartisan call from both the House and Senate Authorizers and from Senator Obama for an additional Shuttle flight in 2010, the IFPTE urges Appropriators to provide, on an emergency basis, at least $150 million in additional FY2009 funds to pursue this extra Shuttle flight. NASA's human spaceflight programs must maintain maximum flexibility as the new President faces very difficult upcoming strategic decisions early next year. These funds are urgently needed in FY09 to keep all options open. This extra flight cannot be allowed to become yet another unfunded mandate that bleeds NASA's other programs for its sustenance.

Lastly, we urge you not to be deterred by veto threats. If need be, we urge you to wait until January for a new, more enlightened, President. The national urgency is clear and the strong bi-partisan support for NASA should carry the day. We urge you to stand united and resolute in providing NASA with a reasonable and appropriate budget so that it can meet the American taxpayer's high expectations of an Agency with a history of making history.

We will provide your respective sub-committee staff directors with our recommendations for the sub-account breakdowns. Should you or your staff have any questions, please feel free to contact me or IFPTE Legislative Director Matt Biggs at (202) 239-4880.


Gregory J. Junemann,

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