A LEADER FOR SPACE — (House of Representatives – November 08, 2001)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California (Mr. HORN) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HORN. Mr. Speaker, today, the House has taken final action on the appropriations bill that funds the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This is an appropriate time to recognize the extraordinary contributions of NASA Administrator Dr. Dan Goldin, whose energy and vision have been essential to continuing our Nation’s leadership in space exploration.

As he prepares to leave NASA and return to the private sector, we should recognize Dan Goldin’s superb leadership during his tenure as head of America’s space agency.

My association with Dan Goldin began not long after I came to the House of Representatives in 1993. I learned that NASA was considering cutting jobs at the space shuttle manufacturing plant in Downey. We discussed NASA’s plans over coffee in the Members Dining Room, and I told him of my concerns about further job losses in Southern California, where the economy already was devastated.

I was impressed from the very beginning by Dan’s forthrightness, his commitment to what he viewed as best for the space program, and his willingness to listen to new and different ideas. Unfortunately, the scale-down of the shuttle program and the consolidation of space-related activities was unavoidable.

The manufacturing plant in Downey, sadly, has been closed. Those who worked there have retired or have gone to other jobs in Southern California. These are the workers who developed and built the Apollo moon capsules, the Sky Laboratory, and all of our space shuttles.

Throughout this process, Dan Goldin has been true to his word in working with me and the City of Downey to address hardships created by the closure and to overcome barriers to an orderly transfer of the NASA property to the City of Downey. He recognized the city’s need to get on with its economic revitalization. He has consistently directed NASA officials in Washington and Houston to work with Downey to move forward.

In October 1998, a ceremony was held in Downey for the transfer of the first parcels of the NASA property to the city. The transfer process had faced various delays and complications, but the ceremony was a great tribute to the strong working relationship that had been developed between NASA and the city in completing this difficult transition.

NASA’s timetable calls for completion of the process in March 2002. A number of steps are required between now and then, and it is critical for Downey that there be no slips in that time line. It already has been several years since the facility was closed. It is critical that Downey receive the final parcels so that its economic revitalization plan can move forward and the developer can begin working to restore the city’s economy.

We continue to work with Dan Goldin, Associate Administrator Sutton, and other senior NASA officials in this important effort. I know they will continue to do all they can to keep the schedule on track.

I wish Dan Goldin all the best as he leaves NASA for new challenges. I know that Downey officials look forward to inviting Dan to visit the city so they can thank him for helping advance a much-needed economic recovery effort.

Mr. Speaker, Dan Goldin is the ablest leader and executive of any major department in Washington during the years I have had in Congress. When President Clinton cut $5 billion from the NASA budget and the space shuttle program, many key people went elsewhere. They gave up. Dan Goldin refused to despair. Instead, he provided the leadership that was needed to pull the program together and continue NASA’s vital missions.

As a result, today we have an excellent space program and a growing partnership with Russia. Dan Goldin deserves our thanks for a job well done and our best wishes in all of his new endeavors. He has served our Nation well.