House Report 109-520 - To accompany H.R. 5672 - NASA


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NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

The Committee recommends a total of $16,709,000,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is $83,227,000 below the request, and an increase of $462,386,000 above the fiscal year 2006 level not including emergency supplemental funding.

The recommendation includes funds to support NASA's new vision and mission for space exploration, while supporting requested funds for the continued operation of the Space Shuttle. The Committee is very concerned about the need to maintain the nation's leadership in science and technology. To this end, the Committee has provided additional funding above the request for aeronautics research and science programs. The recommendation makes modest changes to NASA's request to achieve a balance between exploration and NASA's other core mission programs.

The Committee recommendation provides funding under the same account structure as in fiscal year 2006 and proposed in the President's budget request. After several recent changes in the account and budget structure, the Committee believes that maintaining stability in this structure will improve NASA budgeting and financial management, as well as provide more transparency to improve Congressional oversight. To further improve transparency of resource allocation, the recommendation includes language designating funding by theme in both of NASA's major appropriations accounts. The recommendation continues to provide funding for the Space Shuttle and International Space Station in the Exploration Capabilities account. The recommendation includes new language, similar to language in the bill under the Departments of Justice, Commerce and State, establishing limitations and procedures for the transfer of funds among appropriation accounts. The Committee also notes that the reprogramming procedures outlined in section 605 of this Act apply to the reallocation of funds over a specified amount among budget programs, projects and activities, including the reallocation of funding made available in previous fiscal years. The Committee is concerned about the process of setting NASA priorities through significant funding shifts in the operating plan rather than through the regular appropriations process. The guidance provided in the bill and report for fiscal year 2007 provides a clear base funding level. The Committee must be notified of any deviations that meet the criteria established in section 605. None of the funds provided under this heading shall be for non-NASA construction projects.

With respect to the agency's workforce, the Committee is concerned with the budgetary impact of maintaining employment levels in excess of what is needed to accomplish NASA's mission. The Committee expects NASA to undertake the necessary workforce planning to correct what NASA refers to as "uncovered capacity". The Committee supports NASA's efforts to develop and maintain a world-class workforce.

The Committee remains concerned that NASA television is an asset that is significantly underutilized and could be used as a centerpiece in helping to excite the next generation of explorers in science. The Committee understands that the current year budget for NASA television is $14,000,000, an amount which exceeds the annual budget of the State of Mississippi for public television. NASA must take advantage of its television resources to inform and excite the public. The Committee encourages NASA to work with private sector partners to find innovative ways to incorporate the success of its web portal into its television activities and create a comprehensive multimedia experience for the American public.

SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND EXPLORATION

NASA's Science, Aeronautics and Exploration (SAE) account provides funding for the Science, Exploration Systems, and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates, and for Education programs and Cross-Agency Support programs. The SAE appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs supporting the Mission Directorates and Education Program, and provides for all of the research; development; operations; salaries and related expenses; design, repair, rehabilitation, and modification of facilities and construction of new facilities; maintenance and operation of facilities; and other general and administrative activities supporting SAE programs.

The Committee recommends $10,482,000,000 for science, aeronautics and exploration, an increase of $845,273,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level and $41,805,000 below the request.

Science.—The recommendation includes a total of $5,404,800,000 for the Science Mission Directorate, an increase of $75,000,000 above the request. Increases above the request include: $50,000,000 for research and analysis; $15,000,000 to initiate planning for an orbiter/lander mission to Europa; and $10,000,000 for Terrestrial Planet Finder for continued technology development.

The Committee expects that the increase provided for research and analysis will be allocated in an equitable fashion among all themes of the Science Mission Directorate: Solar System Exploration, the Universe, and the Earth-Sun System. The Committee is concerned about the damage to our nation's research institutions that can result from the abrupt and unexpected termination of peer-reviewed scientific research grants. The Committee expects that NASA will avoid such actions in the future, to the extent possible. When negotiating terms of university research grants, NASA should include close-out provisions that retain adequate flexibility for the agency, while at the same time providing sufficient mechanisms for minimizing adverse impacts on university educational and research programs.

The National Academy of Sciences, Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey of planetary scientists concluded that the highest priority of the scientific community is an orbiter/lander mission to Jupiter's moon, Europa. One of NASA's highest priorities is to search for life on other planets, and the Decadal Survey of planetary scientists determined that Europa has the highest probability of supporting life in our Solar System because of the confirmed presence of a planet-wide ocean of liquid salt water coupled with significant ocean bottom heat energy created by tidal flexing. The chemical and heat energy created by mid-ocean volcanic vents on the bottom of Earth's oceans have created communities of living organisms that thrive in absolute darkness in conditions nearly identical to the conditions that exist on the bottom of Europa's salt water oceans. For these reasons, in last year's conference report, the Congress directed NASA to begin planning for this mission, and to incorporate it into NASA's fiscal year 2007 budget request. The recommendation includes $15,000,000 for NASA to study and plan for a new start for the single most important outer planetary mission of the Decadal Survey. The Committee urges NASA to incorporate additional funding for a Europa mission as part of its fiscal year 2008 budget request. The Committee expects that NASA would implement this new start utilizing a purely peer review process that capitalizes on proven capabilities to plan, design and execute complex outer planetary missions.

The recommendation provides funding for the continuation of the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF). TPF will study all aspects of planets outside our solar system to find earthlike planets and study those planets' ability to maintain life.

The Committee supports NASA's efforts to plan for the extension of the life of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and maintains that the HST servicing mission should be one of NASA's top near-term priorities. The recommendation provides requested funding for the HST servicing mission; however, these funds should not be used to de-orbit HST.

The recommendation includes the requested level of $98,500,000 for the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). This mission will permit a dramatic leap in our understanding of many processes in astrophysics and is a key mission in NASA's search for Earth-like planets and life. Technologies being developed for SIM are also critical to the next generation of space-based telescopes.

The recommendation includes the requested level of $700,200,000 for Mars Exploration to ensure the continued successful implementation of Phoenix in 2007, Mars Science Lab in 2009, Scout in 2011 and the Mars orbiter in 2013 as well as the early technology work for later missions and operations of ongoing missions.

The Committee believes that NASA's scientific successes and discoveries depend upon a well-balanced mission portfolio of large, medium, and small-sized missions. Reductions from planned rates of growth in Science funding appear to have fallen disproportionately on smaller missions such as the competitively-run Explorer Program, which is one of NASA's most important programs addressing critical scientific questions. Within the funding level provided, the Committee encourages NASA to consider a restoration of funding to smaller missions and to fund already-competed missions to the extent possible.

The Committee understands that NASA is in the process of reviewing the future course of action on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The Committee encourages NASA to propose a reallocation of funding through the regular reprogramming process should this review result in a continuation of the program.

The recommendation includes $443,100,000, as requested for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The Committee understands that the JWST has been reaffirmed by a special Science Assessment Team as the astronomy community's number one priority for the coming decade, and is planned for a 2013 launch.

A critical factor that will affect the future missions NASA can initiate is the availability of power sources for probes that cannot rely on solar energy because they are traveling too far from, or too close to, the Sun. An Europa mission and the Solar Probe are examples. Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) are required for these spacecraft. For the past several years, Russia has been supplying the plutonium-238 (Pu-238) needed for U.S. RPSs because U.S. supplies are depleted. Now, Russia's own supplies are running dry. In addition, NASA has curtailed a major part of its technology development for advanced RPS devices. Therefore, NASA, in consultation with the Department of Energy and other appropriate agencies, shall submit a report to the Committee no later than August 31, 2007 on these issues. The report shall address the status of U.S. development of advanced RPS devices; a detailed explanation of what steps are being taken to ensure an adequate supply of plutonium-238 for spacecraft missions; and an indication of how many RPSs, of what design and capabilities, will be available for use, and when, to permit effective planning for future missions.

Exploration Systems.—The recommendation includes a total of $3,827,600,000 for Exploration Systems. The recommendation includes the requested funding levels for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the Crew Launch Vehicle, and International Space Station Cargo Crew Services. The recommendation reduces funding for Constellation Systems program support activities by $16,000,000.

The recommendation includes $239,300,000 for Exploration Technology Development. The Committee expects NASA to enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council for an independent assessment of NASA's restructured Exploration Technology Development program to determine how well the program is aligned with the stated objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration, identify any gaps, and assess the quality of the research. This assessment shall be provided to the Committee within one year after the enactment of this Act.

The recommendation includes $252,700,000 for Robotic Lunar Exploration, an increase of $118,400,000 over the current year level. The Committee recognizes the importance of a robotic lunar lander mission in preparing for future human exploration of the Moon, and therefore supports the continuing work of the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program Office for the development of the robotic lunar project.

The Committee encourages NASA to allocate additional funding, if possible, via the reprogramming process, for basic and applied microgravity life and physical sciences, including the maintenance of a meaningful program of peer-reviewed ground-based research. The Committee further encourages NASA to establish an external advisory panel to guide research priorities relative to microgravity life and physical sciences consistent with the recommendations of the National Academies.

Aeronautics Research.—The recommendation includes $824,400,000 for Aeronautics Research, an increase of $100,000,000 above the request. The restoration of funds reflects the Committee's concern about the direction NASA has taken in downsizing and restructuring its Aeronautics Research program. While the United States is reducing its Federal investment in aeronautics research our competitors are increasing their aeronautics research and development budgets and making competitiveness their number one priority. While the Committee strongly supports the President's new vision for robotic and manned exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond, it is imperative that we not forget the importance of aeronautics research to our domestic economy. The Committee notes that NASA is in the process of developing a National Aeronautics Policy to be delivered to the Congress in the fall of 2006.

The Committee expects NASA to provide a report within sixty days of the enactment of this Act on its response to the findings and recommendations of the National Research Council's Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics, including whether it intends to implement all of the Survey's recommendations, and if not, NASA's rationale for choosing not to implement a given recommendation. The report should also include a timetable for implementing the Survey's recommendations.

Cross-Agency Support Programs.—The recommendation includes $425,200,000 for Cross-Agency Support Programs. The recommended funding level includes $153,300,000 for Education Programs, and $32,200,000 for Shared Capabilities. The reduction below the request is a general reduction to support functions and institutional investments funded through general and administrative charges. The Committee expects that this reduction will be spread back to program activities throughout this account proportionally.

Within the amount provided for education, the Committee strongly encourages NASA to continue long-standing educational collaborations with partner institutions to promote the public understanding of NASA's missions, support the development of the science and technology workforce needed for the 21st century, and to support NASA's strategic directions. The Committee also encourages NASA to allocate funding above the request for the Space Grant and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The Committee expects NASA to issue its request for proposals for EPSCoR funds within 90 days of the enactment of this Act.

Within the amount provided for corporate general and administrative charges, the Committee expects NASA to allocate at least the amount in the budget request for an Independent Verification and Validation facility.

EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES

NASA's Exploration Capabilities (EC) account provides funding for the Space Operations Mission Directorate. The Space Operations Mission Directorate includes the International Space Station (ISS), the Space Shuttle Program, and Space and Flight Support. The EC appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs supporting the Space Operations Mission Directorate, and provides for all of the research; development; operations; salaries and related expenses; design, repair, rehabilitation, and modification of facilities and construction of new facilities; maintenance and operation of facilities; and other general and administrative activities supporting the EC programs.

The Committee recommends $6,193,500,000 for exploration capabilities, a decrease of $41,422,000 below the budget request and $384,401,000 below the fiscal year 2006 base enacted level. The recommendation includes a decrease of $33,400,000 below the request for the International Space Station (ISS). The Committee believes that this small reduction is appropriate given the uncertainties surrounding the nature and scope of the science to be conducted on the ISS. The recommendation assumes that this reduction will be taken from the amount requested for Multi-User Systems and Support. The remaining portion of the reduction below the request is a general reduction to support functions and institutional investments funded through general and administrative charges. The Committee expects that this reduction will be spread back to program activities throughout this account proportionally.

In order to ensure that the ISS will be used effectively to test technologies in support of exploration, the Committee directs NASA to enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council for an independent assessment of how the ISS can best be used as a technology testbed in support of the stated objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration. The assessment should evaluate NASA's plans, identify any gaps, and determine the time required to achieve stated objectives under the planned funding profile for ISS testbed activities. This assessment shall be provided to the Committee within one year after the enactment of this Act. In addition, the Committee directs NASA to provide a plan to the Committee by March 31, 2007 for utilizing the ISS for fundamental materials science research.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

The Inspector General Act of 1978 established the Office of Inspector General. The Office is responsible for providing agency-wide audit and investigative functions to identify and correct management and administrative deficiencies that create conditions for existing or potential instances of fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

The Committee recommends $33,500,000 for the Office of Inspector General, the same as the budget request and $1,514,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

The recommendation includes four administrative provisions. The first provision allows for funds to remain available until expended when an activity has been initiated for the construction of facilities. The second provision makes all amounts appropriated for construction of facilities available until September 30, 2009. The third provision allows funds for authorized prizes to remain available without fiscal year limitation. The final provision governs transfers between NASA appropriation accounts, and mandates that any transfer pursuant to this provision shall be treated


ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF THE HONORABLE DAVID OBEY AND THE HONORABLE ALAN B. MOLLOHAN

The President's request for Science, State, Justice and Commerce FY 2007 programs yields ground in the fight against crime, backs away from the supporting economically distressed communities, retreats from investments in cutting edge innovations, and abrogates our responsibility to ensure equal justice under the law. This bill improves on the Administration's budget, and Chairman Wolf, a man of principle and passion, deserves credit for those improvements. Nonetheless, the President's failures do not excuse Congress from its obligation to adopt a responsible budget resolution that enables us to adequately address these critical issues.

THE PRESIDENT'S BUDGET AND THE CHALLENGES WE FACE

State and Local Law Enforcement: Despite the subcommittee restoring $1.1 billion above the request, this bill provides $2.3 billion in assistance to state and local law enforcement, a reduction of $200 million compared to last year and $2.2 billion compared to 2001. Each year, President Bush's budget has proposed to cut funding for formula grants and assistance to: prevent and prosecute gang activities; combat methamphetamine; equip our police with bulletproof vests and interoperable communications; reduce recidivism; and, encourage effective crime prevention techniques for at-risk youth. Each year, the Committee struggles to restore these cuts. And each year, assistance to State and local law enforcement declines.

[In billions of dollars]

               FY2001  FY2002  FY2003  FY2004  FY2005  FY2006  FY2007 
Enacted:        $4.4    $4.0    $3.5    $3.0    $2.8    $2.5    $2.3 (H)       
Request:                $3.5    $2.7    $2.3    $1.6    $1.5    $1.2   

Last year, violent crime rose by the largest percentage since 1991. Murders increased 4.8 percent—the largest increase in 15 years according to FBI statistics. This is the first increase in violent crime since 2001.

When violent crime is on the rise and local police face additional homeland security demands, this is no time to cut assistance to our State and local law enforcement.

Economic Development Administration: The story is the same with the Economic Development Administration (EDA). Every year, the level provided is a little less than the year before. This year, the Chairman's mark provides $261 million for EDA. This is $66 million below the request of $327 million and $19 million below the 2006 enacted level. Since 2001, EDA support for communities with high unemployment and low incomes has been cut by $179 million—more than 40 percent.

Even in good economic times, many communities in America have been left behind. Today, with the economy failing to provide new jobs and increased wages, EDA efforts that spur public and private investments in commercial and industrial jobs are needed more than ever. EDA's efforts have created more than four million new jobs since its inception and leveraged in excess of $130 billion in private sector investment.

NASA science and education: While the primary Moon-Mars account rose by 30 percent, science funding increased only 1.5 percent, a cut after adjusting for inflation of 1.9 percent. The FY06 budget estimated the FY07 science account to be $5.9 billion. Instead, the request was a little more than $5.3 billion—a reduction of $600 million. These cuts have been forced by funding increases for the Moon-Mars initiative and the continued costs of the space shuttle and the International Space Station. They have forced numerous science missions to be "deferred" or cancelled outright. These missions expand our knowledge of the universe and our planet.

Until this year, NASA had made significant investments in science. And that investment resulted in incredible missions of discovery. For examples, these investments brought us: the Mars Rovers; the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is sending us high resolution images of the Martian surface; and, the Cassini/Huygens mission which may have found evidence of water on one of Saturn's moons.

These missions are exciting and are inspiring to the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Explorer Program, one of the programs targeted for reduction, is one of the few competitively run NASA programs that engages universities, industry, and other partners to explore the most cutting edge scientific discoveries in all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics. Designed to provide relatively cheap and fast access to space, these low-budget spacecraft are often developed and managed by university groups. Cuts to this program will end a generation of young people entering this field and possibly ending American domination of space science.

The President's request also cuts NASA education by 14 percent, $25 million, from compared to two years ago—from $178.9 million to $153.3 million. NASA's education programs capitalize on the excitement of NASA's discoveries and missions to inspire future generations of space scientists. At a time when the President is proposing to double the physical sciences in NSF, NIST, and DOE and we are all focusing on the importance of science education, cutting NASA science education simply makes no sense.

Legal Services Corporation: This year's bill provides $313 million for Legal Services Corporation (LSC), $12.7 million below the enacted level and $87 million below the high water mark in 1996. LSC helps ensure that every American, regardless of income, receives equal access to justice.

LSC's budget declined precipitously in 1996, from $400 million to $278 million, then slowly but steadily rose to $338 million in 2003. Since 2003, budget cuts and increasing costs have caused LSC to close 16 field offices, hire 100 fewer attorneys and 240 fewer paralegals. As a result, the number of cases handled by LSC declined by 30,000 even as the demand for legal services has increased. Since 2003, the eligible population has grown by 3 million Americans. We cannot continue to cut LSC and uphold the principle of the Pledge of Allegiance to provide justice for all.

THE MOLLOHAN AMENDMENT—THE DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE

On eight of the other annual appropriations bills, Democrats have offered amendments that provided for additional investments in a range of domestic priorities offset by asking people making more than $1 million a year to get by with a slightly smaller tax cut than the Republicans would provide. These amendments were fiscally responsible and consistent with the Democratic alternative budget.

During consideration of this Science-State-Justice-Commerce bill, Representative Mollohan offered such an amendment. The Mollohan amendment would:

* Support state and local law enforcement grants by providing an additional $312 million to reach the full authorization level of $900 million;

* Assist economically distressed communities by providing an additional $65 million, which is $46 million above last year;

* Ensure assistance to those most in need is most effective by providing an additional $13 million for the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP);

* Help ensure equal justice by providing an additional $92 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), an increase that brings LSC to its 1995 high-water mark funding level;

* Provide a range of assistance to small businesses by providing an additional $20 million to the Small Business Administration's microloan program; and,

* Bolster science and education programs at NASA by $100 million to reverse the trend of damaging cuts in this area.

To be clear, the Mollohan amendment-as with all of the Democratic budget alternative amendments offered in committee—would not increase the deficit. These amendments are fully offset by providing people making more than $1 million a year with a slightly smaller tax cut than Republicans would provide in their budget. In keeping with the Democratic alternative, the Mollohan amendment was offset by shrinking the average tax break for people making more than $1 million a year by 1.45 percent—from $114,172 to $112,515—a reduction of $1,657.

The bottom line is: $59.8 billion is not enough for all the programs we have discussed and numerous others we have not mentioned, including funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, life sciences funding at NASA and biology funding at National Science Foundation.

EXPLOSIVES TAX

The bill contains a $30 million tax on explosives users. The President proposed a $120 million tax as he did last year. This tax is unacceptable. We hope and expect that the legislative provision that imposes the burdensome tax will be eliminated from this bill.

CONCLUSION

Chairman Wolf has a difficult job balancing a diverse portfolio of important programs in a tough budgetary climate. After House Republicans adopted an unrealistic budget resolution this past spring, this bill and the 10 other annual appropriations bills the Committee has now reported are bound to come up short, and they have in ways large and small.

That budget resolution, which accepted the President's overall target for discretionary spending, didn't make this bill's failings a possibility; that budget made this bill's shortcomings a certainty.

Dave Obey.

Alan B. Mollohan.

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