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Public Statements

Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range Designation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about H.R. 667, a bill to rename the Dryden Flight Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center. I, along with millions around the world were terribly saddened to hear the news this past August of the passing of Neil Armstrong, a genuine American hero and an inspiration to countless people around the world. This bill was introduced as one way of paying tribute to a man who exemplified the true meaning of public service through a life of inspiring others through his bravery and self-sacrifice. It would rename the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, while still naming the Western Aeronautical Test Range within the center as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. For those who may be unfamiliar with him, Dr. Dryden was a true aeronautics visionary, and an individual worthy of our recognition and esteem.

Last year, in my capacity as ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I had the opportunity to participate in the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring Mr. Neil Armstrong, along with John Glenn, who is also a former senator, Michael Collins and Edwin ``Buzz'' Aldrin, Jr. Each of these individuals is a genuine national hero and worthy of our gratitude. They and the astronauts that preceded and followed them were willing to put their lives at risk and sometimes make the ultimate sacrifice in order to push back the frontiers of knowledge and help our country achieve preeminence in space exploration.

Yet, it is clear from the way he carried himself and his public statements, that Mr. Armstrong did not seek public tributes such as the House is voting on today. Instead, he cared deeply about the future of our Nation's space program, and in his testimony to our Committee he stressed the importance of sustaining our commitment to a strong NASA. So it's worse than ironic that in the same week that we are voting to rename a NASA Center for him, we are going to allow a sequestration to proceed that will make devastating cuts to NASA's budget and set back the very human space exploration and aeronautics activities that Mr. Armstrong championed when he was alive. These cuts will also hurt the Flight Research Center we are proposing to rename, likely leading to layoffs and furloughs of dedicated individuals who work at the Center--individuals who in many cases were probably inspired by both Dr. Dryden and Mr. Armstrong's examples to work for NASA in the first place.

Mr. Speaker, we can and should do better than this. I would urge the Majority to bring a bill to avoid this sequester to the House floor this week so we can vote on it. We should not be cutting our critical investments in R&D and in NASA. That is no way to honor the legacy of either Neil Armstrong or Hugh Dryden.

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