WASHINGTON — Two Republican lawmakers appealed to House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to spare NASA’s manned space exploration programs from the budget axe next year while suggesting the agency’s roughly $1.6 billion request for climate-monitoring initiatives is ripe for cuts.

“The establishment of, and commitment to, human space exploration is critical to our country’s national security and economy, and we respectfully ask that our Republican budget reflect this national priority,” Reps. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas) said in a March 17 letter to Ryan, whose job as budget chief is to establish top-level spending allocations for the coming fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Adams and Olson, who represent states with a stake in NASA’s manned spaceflight program, said the current fiscal situation is forcing hard choices as members of the GOP-led House seek to curb discretionary spending at federal agencies.

“To be clear, we believe that NASA’s budget can be reduced,” the lawmakers wrote, urging Ryan to take aim at climate-monitoring programs poised for a modest funding boost over the next five years under the $18.72 billion budget blueprint U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled Feb. 14. “Within the NASA budget specifically, we believe there is an opportunity to cut funding within the Earth Science account where an overabundance of climate change research is being conducted,” they wrote.

The members lauded America’s history of global leadership in space exploration but criticized Obama for what they said was undermining the nation’s leadership in space exploration. Obama’s plan also supports commercial astronaut transportation services and space technology development over deep space exploration systems favored by Congress.

“[O]nce again, the Obama Administration’s budget willingly cedes that leadership to China, Russia and India — countries that understand the importance of human space exploration,” the letter states. “We cannot continue to accept this administration’s assault on American exceptionalism and world leadership.”


House Group Proposes Shifting Earth Science Funds to Manned Spaceflight