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May 16, 2006

House Democrats Push for Increased NASA Funding

Via NASA Watch comes a press release about the Democrats’ latest push to increase funding at NASA:
In a letter this week to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce, Science Committee Democratic leaders urged appropriators to increase NASA’s FY07 funding level as recommended in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005.

Without such augmentation, Democrats cautioned that NASA’s science and aeronautics programs - as well as other important agency R&D efforts - are at risk.

As basic science at NASA stands to suffer under the new budget constraints, these recommendations couldn’t be timelier. From the letter:
Unfortunately, the Administration has failed to request funding for NASA in either FY 2006 or FY 2007 commensurate with what it has estimated would be needed. Thus, the FY 2007 budget request for NASA is more than a billion dollars less than the Administration and Congress (as reflected in the Authorization Act of 2005) have believed is required to undertake the new exploration initiative while maintaining robust and healthy science and aeronautics programs. We have been consistent in our stated position that we support the goals of the exploration initiative, but that we are not prepared to support an implementation approach for that initiative that is predicated on the cannibalization of NASA's other important missions.

In our view, NASA's FY 2007 budget request makes unacceptable cuts to NASA's science and aeronautics programs, and it is inconsistent with the stated goals of the Administration's American Competitiveness Initiative. We believe that if those cuts are not reversed, long-term damage will be done to important national R&D capabilities. Moreover, an exploration initiative that is premised on the curtailment or diminution of other core NASA missions is not likely to prove politically sustainable over the long run.

It is clear that you face a significant challenge in attempting to construct a viable NASA appropriations plan within today's fiscally constrained environment. We are writing to you to offer our recommendations for addressing NASA's FY 2007 budget request based on the approach taken in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 as well as on information obtained from this year's Science Committee hearing record.

Fundamentally, we believe that it is important for Congress to provide an overall funding level for NASA as close as possible to the $17.8 billion level recommended in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. Otherwise, as is demonstrated by NASA's FY 2007 budget request, ill-advised and damaging cuts to NASA's science and aeronautics programs, as well as to important long-term exploration research and technology efforts are inevitable.

So, under Republican leadership NASA isn’t getting what it needs, and that’s not even as bad as what it is getting that it doesn’t need. Yikes!

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