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Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. HALL. Mr. Chairman, I oppose the Obey amendment. The $200 million funding cut to NASA's exploration program proposed in this amendment would jeopardize U.S. jobs and jeopardize space launch capability. These cuts would threaten personnel reductions in existing NASA exploration systems' workforce across the Nation and could impact more than 1,000 employees. This cut will take money directly from work on the new crew exploration vehicle, a much needed vehicle that will replace the space shuttle in 2010 or after 2010. It contains very likely the most vital addition of a crew escape module making it a safer vehicle for our astronauts. It is a very important thrust.

The gentleman from Wisconsin's amendment proposes to take funds out of NASA and put them toward justice assistance grants. While I am supportive of local law enforcement officials, it is important to point out that Congress has already appropriated billions for State and local law enforcement. On May 17, the House approved the fiscal year 2006 homeland security appropriations bill which provides $3.7 billion for first responders, including grants to State and local law enforcement agencies. Since September 11, $15 billion has been provided to assist State and local officials. Indeed, the bill on the floor today provides $2.6 billion for crime-fighting initiatives, $1 billion more than the President requested.

Mr. Chairman, Congress has and will continue to support our men and women who fight crime in our communities. Of course we are going to do that. The issue today is not whether Congress supports law enforcement. It is whether Congress supports the economic and national security that our space program provides. Since 1969, America has led the world into space, and it is time to renew that vision. Our ventures into space not only keep America at the forefront of exploration and innovation, but they also are vital to our economy and our national security. This new national vision sets America on a course toward the Moon and Mars, and we should embrace this dream and work to make it a reality.

As the preeminent leader in human space flight, we cannot afford to sit idle and let other nations reap the rewards of our hard work, research and sacrifice. We know that the People's Republic of China has developed a human space flight program that encompasses everything from low-Earth orbit to exploring the Moon and Mars. As the new NASA administrator said recently and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) just pointed out, we need to retire the shuttle as quickly as possible and begin flying the new crew exploration vehicle to the international space station and the Moon. These requirements and these funding cuts that the gentleman from Wisconsin proposes will have a direct impact on that momentum and the President's vision for space exploration, a vision that will advance our national economy and prestige internationally.

America's space program continues to be an engine for our national economy. Exploration brings jobs and technological growth to America. Nearly every State in the Union benefits from the development of technologies needed to propel our space mission. At a time when we are all concerned about jobs leaving the United States, supporting NASA makes sense because we are providing good jobs for Americans. We owe it to future generations of Americans and the men and women who have kept the space program alive to oppose this amendment.


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