Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space held a hearing to review the Administration's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Testifying before the Subcommittee was the Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of NASA.
The budget request includes funding for NASA's science, aeronautics, space technology, and human spaceflight programs as well as construction, infrastructure support, and for the inspector general. It also includes a new proposal for an asteroid capture and retrieval mission. The proposal for FY 2014 continues the reductions in planetary science included the last budget request, mandates additional responsibilities for the Earth Science program, and provides increases to the space technology program and the commercial crew program while reducing funding for the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose crew capsule development programs.
Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), addressed General Bolden in her opening statement, "With sequestration and the late resolution of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, we in Congress have not provided you with the optimal conditions under which to plan and implement NASA's inspiring portfolio of missions. I have said before and will say again that our investments in research and development, including space, are investments in innovation, jobs, and future economic growth. If we skimp on the inputs side of the equation, we can't expect positive changes to our nation's capacity for innovation and growth."
She continued, expressing concern that the budget request overestimates NASA's ability to fund all of the program content described in the request. She said, "We need to take a careful look at how the resources requested match the program content included in the FY 2014 budget request. At the Full Committee hearing last week on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for Science Agencies, the President's Science Adviser, Dr. Holdren, testified that 'NASA has long had the problem of 20 lbs. of missions in a 10 Ib. budget, and they continue to.' I share that concern."
Democratic Members expressed concern about several areas of NASA's proposed budget including the impact of sequestration on NASA's programs, if it continues; the lack of flexibility to address cost growth or begin new projects; whether funding new responsibilities in the Earth sciences would require the siphoning of funds from other programs; and the drastic cut to NASA's STEM education programs.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said in her statement for the record, "A commitment to deficit reduction should not negate the need to invest in our future. And I consider NASA and its programs to be one of the most strategic of the investments we can make as a nation. Not only is NASA an engine of innovation for America, but it has an additional feature that sets it apart from much of the rest of the federal R&D enterprise--namely, its ability to inspire. That quality of inspiration not only sets NASA apart, but it has also helped to make NASA one of the most positive symbols of our nation, recognizable throughout the world. I hope as we prepare to reauthorize NASA this year, that we see investing in NASA not as a discretionary luxury, but rather as what it is--a critical investment in the future well-being of this nation and a beacon of inspiration for the generation that will be coming along to create the jobs of the future, explore the unknown, and improve the quality of life back here on Earth."