Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008
June 18, 2008
Dear House and Senate Appropriator:
As both House and Senate Appropriators prepare for the full-committee mark-up of their respective Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations measures, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), NASA's largest Union, would like to thank House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey for his decision to increase the CJS allocation, and House CJS Subcommittee Chairman Allan Mollohan for his decision to use almost $200 million of that increase to begin the restoration of NASA's Science, Aeronautics, and Education programs. While Europe and China continue to invest heavily in aerospace R&D and Science/Technology/Math/Engineering education to secure a dominant role in aviation commerce and to vie for world leadership in aerospace technology development, the President's fiscal year 2009 (FY09) budget reflects the government's abandonment of nearly 60 years of America's unquestioned dominance in these arenas.
The Administration's anemic FY09 budget proposal for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
While IFPTE strongly applauds the House's efforts to rebalance and reinvigorate NASA's budget, the union also supports Senate CJS Sub-committee Chairperson Barbara Mikulski's effort to secure a larger increase for NASA. Specifically, we support the extra $1 billion that was championed by Chairwoman Mikulski and passed by the Senate last year. IFPTE believes that adding $300 million to the House level would restore Science, Aeronautics, Technology, and Education programs to their previous healthy levels, and would allow some minimal growth in global climate R&D. An additional $500 million would then put Constellation's progress on surer footing as it works to relive the Saturn-V development era on a shoestring budget.
In addition to the above budgetary proposals, IFPTE supports a number of administrative provisions to protect NASA's workforce from further harm caused by the President's Management Agenda:
Lastly, IFPTE fully realizes the extraordinary fiscal constraints facing Congress today given the insatiable budgetary demands of the Iraq war and the irresponsible tax policies of the Bush Administration. Regrettably, under these constraints, NASA's budget cannot be optimized and, of course, NASA's problems cannot be allowed to eat into critical needs in other key areas covered by CJS. IFPTE would like to point out, however, that the Constellation program deliverables, particularly Ares V, will undoubtedly be dual-use as the Department of Defense's space operations will someday utilize these vehicles to place heavy military payloads in orbit. It would therefore seem appropriate for the military's space operations budget to provide CJS with the approximately $800 million needed in FY09 to bridge the gap between the House bill's proposed top line and the $1 billion emergency increase over the President's proposed top line supported by the Senate. When NASA was asked to build Saturn V, it was provided with the equivalent of a $30 billion dollar budget and a civil-service workforce of nearly 36,000. It would not seem unreasonable for NASA to be given a relatively small transfer from the secret military space operations budget (under the oversight of the Select Intelligence Committees) so that NASA may deliver the Constellation vehicles on time with both civilian and military benefits, without compromising NASA's other important missions, without harming CJS's other important priorities, and without increasing the burden on the taxpayer.
I thank you for your consideration of these important matters. Should you have any questions, I, or IFPTE Legislative Director Matt Biggs can be reached at (202) 239-4880.
Gregory J. Junemann,
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