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Madam Speaker, I came down a couple of minutes ago and listened to the opening comments of the distinguished gentleman from Florida as he went through the litany of successes of the space program in the past, and it was a good recitation and a good reflection on those things that we can really be proud of as Americans that the space program has accomplished. I jotted down a couple of notes, the pacemaker, solar energy, environmental control systems, MRIs, microwaves, wireless technology and so forth and so on.
I am here as a supporter of the space program and as someone who wants to see that innovation and that creativity deployed in a way that not only has an impact on these types of things, but also has an impact on the great struggle that we are facing as a country and that my district and many, many other districts around the country are facing, and that is the cost of aviation fuel. I had an amendment that I offered to the Rules Committee that unfortunately was just swatted away in a partisan fashion, and I was very disappointed in that. Not a single Democrat was willing to vote for it, and I was just disappointed.
My sense is let's take the NASA program and develop that talent and tilt that talent that the gentleman from Florida cited so eloquently a few minutes ago, and let's get it working on alternative fuels as it relates to aviation. Because, you see, I represent O'Hare Airport in the Chicago metropolitan area. I represent thousands and thousands of passengers, thousands of airline employees.
The airline industry is now under the crushing weight of excessive costs of aviation fuel. Fuel is up 40 percent to the point of a ticket price, 40 percent now is that of the ticket price, of the ticket on an airplane, up from only 15 percent back in the year 2000. American Airlines spent $61 billion this year in fuel, whereas last year they spent only $41 billion.
My amendment simply said this, to direct NASA, to say, look, don't allocate resources at this time when we can't afford it, to the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Instead, direct those resources to alternative fuels for commercial aviation with a three-prong test, the need to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, the need to develop a fuel that will provide greater stability for the airline industry and also that will reduce the emissions.
I think that's an area where the entire Congress can come together. For the life of me, I don't understand why it was swatted away in such a partisan fashion, and I hope that on future evaluations by the Rules Committee that they will have a little bit of an open mind.
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