Sen. Shelby's Speech on the Commerce, Justice, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

Press Release From: Sen. Shelby
Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2009

image October 5, 2009 Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the fiscal year 2010 CJS Appropriations bill.  The full Senate began consideration of the legislation today.

The full text of the speech, as prepared, is as follows:

"Mr. President, I am pleased to present with Chairwoman Mikulski, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010.

"First, I would like to thank Chairwoman Mikulski and her staff for their continued friendship and the hard work they have put into this bill.

"This is truly the most diverse appropriations bill we have, literally affecting all of the expanses of our planet, and into the outer recesses of the universe.

"It covers state and local law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts; oceanic and weather research; trade; standards research; and it keeps our nation competitive through investment in science and space exploration.

"This bill funds the Departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a number of independent agencies, including the United States Trade Representative, the Legal Services Corporation, and the International Trade Commission.

"Mr. President, nothing is more important than the safety of the American people.

"The committee’s recommendation for the Department of Justice is $27.4 billion, which is $311 million over the request.

"Chairwoman Mikulski and I have worked to ensure that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies receive the funding needed to protect our citizens and communities.

"The Department of Commerce is funded at $14 billion, $254 million over the requested level.

"This department contains some of our nation’s most important business development, economic, science and research agencies including the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"The Chairwoman and I have attempted to expand the foundation for our nation’s economic future, as well as providing researchers with the tools to assess our weather, oceans, and environment.

"Of the amount provided to the Department of Commerce, $7.3 billion is for the 2010 census and $4.8 billion for NOAA an increase of $299 million over the request. These additional funds are directed towards research, observation, education, and conservation programs.

"For NASA, this bill provides $18.7 billion to move forward with the agency’s current exploration vision, while fully funding the ongoing activities of the space shuttle and the international space station.

"We are at a challenging point in time for the funding of NASA, particularly human space flight.

"The space shuttle is successfully finishing the required deliveries to the space station in its few remaining flights.

"The international space station has a permanent crew of six, which will allow our astronauts to conduct science instead of just station upkeep.

"We are also on the verge of having a test flight of the rockets being developed by NASA to once again take humans beyond low earth orbit.

"As NASA moves towards retiring the shuttle and leaving the nation without our own human launch vehicle, we must continue to develop our own capabilities, not only for missions to the space station, but for future expeditions as well.

"While I commend the Augustine Commission for their hard work, I find many of the aspects proposed in their summary report to be unsatisfactory and disappointing.

"Mr. President, I am baffled by NASA’s path forward on the Constellation program.

"This program is built on a foundation of proven technologies, using existing capabilities and infrastructure. The Ares I team will soon launch the first test flight and the groundwork for the Ares V heavy lift vehicle is well underway.

"And yet, instead of simply providing Constellation with funds to move forward, it is delaying the current mission while seeking to have a do-over on plans that have been authorized by both a Republican and Democratic Congress.

"NASA, and this administration, should never forget that the support of Congress will still be necessary to authorize and provide funds as we move forward.

"Given the challenges and high cost of access to space, I agree that it is beneficial for NASA to look at all viable options that could be provided by U.S. industry to support operations on the international space station and future exploration.

"However, we must do so in a realistic way.

"NASA must support the program that has the greatest likelihood of success.

"The benefits our society has gained from the human space flight program are immeasurable.

"Almost every facet of our lives today has been touched by discoveries with human space flight.

"Beyond the direct, tangible benefits, there is also the intangible benefit that comes with knowing that America is leading the world in discovering and exploring new frontiers.

"Mr. President, I will not support any future NASA budget request that does not have a robust human exploration program.

"It must be a program that inspires, yet is also a program grounded in what is possible, and not wishful thinking.

"If we no longer prioritize space exploration, we can be certain that others will.

"A number of the findings by the Augustine Commission would guarantee that other nations, such as Russia, China, and India will be waving to us as they fly by the space station on their way to the moon and other planets.

"We cannot cede our leadership in space and we must have a viable human space exploration program.

"As we are losing global market shares in most industries, we are still the world leader in human space flight.

"I will not support a NASA that squanders that lead.

"Simply put, Mr. President, if that were to happen, I will not support a visionless NASA.

"In conclusion, I would like to thank Chairwoman Mikulski for her leadership on this bill. We have worked together on many issues throughout our years of serving together and this bill reflects our strong relationship.

"I ask my colleagues to support this bill, and urge its swift passage.

"Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum."

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