Members today questioned NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a Space Subcommittee hearing titled “An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Fiscal Year 2017.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas): “Unfortunately, this administration has once again done a disservice to NASA, its employees, and our nation by providing a budget request that ignores the budget agreement, requesting mandatory funding for NASA. I had hoped that the administration would demonstrate leadership by proposing a realistic budget, but instead we were presented with a list of unfunded priorities.

“Other nations, such as China, are working adamantly to become the global leader in space exploration. The consequences of America getting it right or wrong are not immediate, but they are enormous. The rules are going to be made by those countries that are on the surface of the Moon and Mars, not those that stayed home.”

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “There are some areas of agreement between the Committee and the administration in NASA’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request. But this proposed budget continues to tie our astronauts’ feet to the ground and makes a Mars mission all but impossible.

“It is NASA’s responsibility to provide a compelling plan for space exploration and execute it. It is Congress’s responsibility to ensure NASA’s budget is prioritized and funded. This Committee will do everything in its power to support American leadership in space.”

Members criticized the administration’s proposal for its reliance on mandatory spending that would require significant tax increases in addition to dramatic cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, student loan programs and veterans benefits.

The proposal also suggests cuts to key exploration programs similar to previous years’ budgets. NASA’s FY17 proposal would strip $987 million from the Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule, which are being developed for deep space destinations such as Mars. The budget also recommends cuts to Planetary Science of $240 million, while continuing to disproportionately grow Earth Science budgets at a rate of 70 percent since 2008.

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.