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

   Mr. LAMPSON. Mr. Speaker, I wanted to come here this evening and talk to my colleagues for a few minutes about the VA-HUD bill that is going to come up tomorrow and talk specifically about potential amendments that are going to be made.

   It is important for us to lend our support to the overall NASA budget and, specifically, manned space exploration and those items that center around the International Space Station.

   There has been an awful lot of talk in the last several weeks about potential cuts in the International Space Station because of the overruns that had been talked about for a long period of time. We are looking at building a facility that has never been built before and doing things that are absolutely new technology. The guesses in the expenditures of what it was going to take to create this facility have not always been right; and, unfortunately, we are facing more costs than what we originally

   Something has to be done about that. We hope we will find a way in our committees to ask the tough questions of the contractors and of NASA to make sure that we get a better handle on what is going to be spent in the future with regard to any space activity, whether it is manned or robotic.

   But, right now, we are making some real serious decisions and potentially bad decisions with regard to the International Space Station. We are talking about taking parts of the International Space Station, such as the crew return vehicle, which allows a full crew of seven people to do the science necessary to get a return from our exploration in space.

   If we stop the construction of the crew return vehicle, then we will only be able to accommodate three to six people on the International Space Station. If we did six, a total of two Soyuz return vehicles, one commander for each vehicle, that would dramatically reduce our ability to do the science that we have built the International Space Station for in the first place.

   A lot has been done, and we have succeeded in getting significant amounts of monies put into the appropriations bill, which will be considered tomorrow in the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies appropriation bill.

   Some of those amendments will be Space Station-killing amendments, so I am here to ask my colleagues to give very serious consideration to anything that would stop this huge investment that we have made and the opportunity for us to get a significant return on that investment over the next many years, an investment in knowledge of what is out beyond Earth’s surface; what we might be able to gain in knowledge as we explore space that could change our health, our lives, knowledge-wise as far as
why human beings are here; or perhaps something as simple as a solution to or a cure for a particular illness.

   Those are the things we have gotten out of our space exploration for decades, and it is interesting to note some statistics: that in the 1960s, during the Apollo period, in the 1960s and 1970s, 4 percent of our Nation’s budget went to NASA , 4 percent. Today, that amount is less than six-tenths of 1 percent.

   It is also interesting that some of these amendments that may be considered tomorrow that will replace money from NASA , take money away from NASA and put it either into the VA or HUD parts of that bill, let us consider what has happened to Housing and Urban Development, as an example. They have had an increase from $16 billion to $31 billion in the last several years. The Veterans Administration has had increases from $40 billion to $50 billion, a 25 percent increase only in the last 4 or 5 years.

   We want to support both of those. I will be supporting them. Both have had significant increases in this year’s appropriation. The NASA budget has stayed flat, at $14 billion, for the last many years. It is time for our commitment to space to be reiterated, to be spoken of again in a way that we spoke of it in the 1960s.

   I remember when President Kennedy challenged our country to send a man to the moon and return him safely within a decade, and we did it. It changed the way we educated our children, it changed the way we did business. It brought huge returns to us.

   So, in wrapping this up, I ask my colleagues to pay very much attention to the VA-HUD appropriation tomorrow and to support NASA in every way they can.