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Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROHRABACHER. Madam Chairman, I rise today to engage in a colloquy on NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The chairman has shown great leadership on space and science issues. He and I have often worked together on issues of shared interest, and he is a great friend.

The report of this bill contains some very strong language about NASA's Commercial Crew Program; and I, admittedly, have some concerns about that language. I believe it makes a flawed comparison between Commercial Crew Program partners and the energy firm Solyndra. In addition, it requires an immediate down-select to a single-program partner, which I do not believe is the best path to move forward.

That being said, I do understand and agree with many of the chairman's concerns that I know were underlying this language. For example, NASA has not shared a clear, comprehensive management plan for the program despite repeated requests. Instead, they have made inconsistent and confusing statements about the program's purpose, timeline, design, costs, and procurement benefits.

Although the committee has defined one possible management approach in response to these concerns, I hope that we will be able to discuss some alternative approaches that both address the management problems within NASA and allow the achievement of the agreed-upon goals of the program. With that in mind, I am willing to work with NASA to help come up with a new plan that will do just that. And I would be pleased to work with the chairman on these issues in order to go forward.

At this time, I yield to my good friend, the gentleman from Virginia, the chairman of the CJS Subcommittee.

Mr. WOLF. I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) for yielding and for outlining the concerns that a number of people have about this program.

I believe that, despite our differences--and it may not really be that much of a difference--we share a common goal of providing reliable domestic access to the space station in the fastest and most cost-effective manner. We are paying the Russians $60 million a seat to get there. So we want to get there as fast as we can for the lowest cost that we can so we can utilize that space station, which cost us $100 billion.

I know the gentleman is a staunch supporter of commercial spaceflight. And if the gentleman believes that he can get NASA to come up with a clearer and more reasonable plan, we want to work with him. We look forward to discussing results as we move forward with the process. And I will tell him that we will work together.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

And let me just note that both of us are committed to making sure this country is never dependent on a Chinese rocket system to launch either commercial or government satellites or to reach the space station.


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