Clinton Welcomes Senate Approval of $1 Billion for NASA
Funding Will Be Used to reimburse NASA for Safety Upgrades in Aftermath of the Shuttle Columbia Tragedy
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today welcomed full Senate approval of an amendment she co-sponsored to the FY08 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill which would reimburse $1 billion to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the costs of upgrading the safety of the space shuttle fleet in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. Senator Clinton joined with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in introducing this amendment.
"I am proud to join with Senator Mikulski to reaffirm our nation's commitment to scientific innovation and to the mission of NASA. America's history of scientific exploration and ingenuity has created jobs, grown our economy, protected our security, and secured America's place as the world's great innovator. We need to reclaim that role by restoring our commitment to education, research, innovation, and discovery," said Senator Clinton.
In 1987, Congress allocated $2.7 billion in the aftermath of the Challenger tragedy to pay for a replacement shuttle. In the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy, however, NASA was not given any additional funding for repairs. This amendment will pay back the costs of returning the shuttle to flight, in turn helping to maintain the United States' commitment to the International Space Station through international treaty obligations. The amendment will also restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight. The $1 billion will be declared as an emergency under the terms of the budget resolution and is a one-time allocation.
The United States is under pressure to develop a new, reliable, and safe human flight vehicle and compete with other nation's space programs, because consistent cuts in funding have created a five year gap between the time when a new shuttle launches and the Columbia shuttle is retired. For years, science and aeronautics have faced cuts of almost $100 million and science related to the space station has been cut by almost $350 million. These cuts have had a ripple effect in the scientific community, causing delays and cancellations to important science missions.
The FY08 Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies Appropriations bill awaits full Senate passage. Once passed, the bill will move towards Conference with the House and then to the President for signature.