By Lee Roop
When Congress returns to work Tuesday after its August recess, freshman U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, will ask senior members of the Alabama delegation for "guidance" on protecting NASA. "I would like their insight on the best path to take when you've got as NASA's foe an imperial presidency," Brooks said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
Specifically, Brooks and his staff will reach out to U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile. Together, Brooks said, they "have a combined 60-plus years' experience."
Brooks believes the current White House "is a threat to NASA's traditional role in manned space flight." He cited the delay starting a new heavy-lift rocket that is to be managed from Huntsville's Marshall Space Flight Center.
Alluding to allegations that NASA is siphoning off money from the stalled rocket for other purposes, Brooks said Congress must keep trying to writing appropriations bills "so the money is spent on heavy lift or doesn't get spent at all."
If Republicans controlled the Senate, Brooks said, it could force the Obama administration to spend the money already appropriated for the new rocket. "The House can't force the president to do anything by itself," he said.
Looking ahead at Round 2 of the fight to cut federal spending this fall, featuring a budget supercommittee and congressional voting deadlines, Brooks expects "this problem, too, will be resolved, although it might be painful in November and December. It probably won't be as painful as it should be to cure the disease."
Brooks spent part of his August recess visiting Israel with a congressional delegation. The trip was funded by Americans who support that country, he said.
On the trip, his first to Israel, Brooks and the delegation met with Israeli government and defense officials and the Palestinian Authority.
He said he was briefed on Israel's Iron Dome missile-defense system that has shot down 52 incoming missiles fired from the Gaza Strip. The system has links to missile defense work done in Huntsville, he said.
He was impressed with how small Israel is, Brooks said, comparing it in size to the 5th Congressional District. "You can be on a hill in the West Bank and see across Tel Aviv to the Mediterranean Sea," he said. Brooks said there are so many historic sites in the country important to the world's three great monotheistic religions that Israel would be a tourist magnet "if they had peace."