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Senator Bill Nelson - Minority Statement - NASA Transition Act, 4 Other Bills

Status Report From: Sen. Bill Nelson
Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. While we will consider a number of bipartisan bills today, I want to take a few moments to talk about the NASA authorization bill that's now before us.

Last week marked the 55th anniversary of President Kennedy’s challenge to send a man to the Moon by the end of the decade. The NASA bill we will be marking up today keeps us moving toward a new, and perhaps even more ambitious goal: to send humans to Mars.

NASA has made tremendous progress since Senator Hutchison and I joined with others on this committee to pass the bi-partisan NASA authorization in 2010.

We’ve seen successful engine and booster test firings and now full on construction of the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be the most powerful rocket ever made.

Orion, the next generation deep space capsule, had a successful test flight in 2014 and is now at Kennedy Space Center where workers are testing it for a launch on the SLS in 2018.

And, thanks to NASA’s collaboration with Boeing and SpaceX, we will soon once again have American rockets carrying our American astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil. 

This bill keeps those missions moving forward, and authorizes all of NASA’s important endeavors in science, aeronautics, exploration, space technology, and education to continue through 2017.

I am pleased that this bill reaffirms that NASA is a multi-mission agency. But I certainly share the desire of many of the members on this committee to see more funding for science, aeronautics, and space technology.

Despite all of the progress NASA has made over the last several years, there is no denying the fact that we are still far short of the funding trajectory that was approved by this chamber all the way back in the 2010 authorization. 

In 2013, the meat cleaver of sequestration slashed all the agency programs, taking around $1 billion from the agency’s top line and we have never fully recovered.

This senator’s intention is to work with our appropriators to get the best possible outcome we can for NASA in 2017, and to work next year on a comprehensive, multi-year NASA authorization bill. 

I would like to thank committee members for all their hard work in getting this bill to this point. I urge you to support this important legislation.

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