(Washington, DC) – Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a markup of H.R. 2039, the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017.”  H.R. 2039 was approved by the Committee on a party-line vote. 

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said in her opening statement, “These cuts have absolutely nothing to do with making America safer or stronger. Nothing. They are simply the expression of the Majority’s stick-your-head-in-the-sand ideology. This is especially disappointing because we had worked so hard just three months ago to make our NASA authorization a bipartisan bill which could be broadly supported by the aerospace and science community. It’s a shame to be throwing all that work away in pursuit of a narrow ideological agenda.” 

She continued, “I’m going to close with a warning. There are those in this country, and in this Congress, who don’t think NASA should be a priority. NASA has survived and thrived over the years only because of the strong bipartisan backing of those who understand the importance of NASA to our national wellbeing. The bill before us will never become law. But the Majority’s willingness to walk away from bipartisanship in order to appease their own most ideologically driven Members, risks eroding support for NASA in general. This, I fear, will be one of the most unfortunate consequences of the Majority’s actions.” 

Read her full opening statement here.

Congresswoman Johnson offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute (ANS). She said, “This amendment is drawn largely from the Majority’s bill, which itself is drawn largely from the bipartisan NASA Authorization of 2015 that passed the House earlier this year by voice vote. The primary difference is that my amendment will put NASA on a sustainable growth path to allow the agency to fulfill all of its important missions. Thus, my amendment would fully fund Earth Science.  It would fund the Space Launch System and Orion at the levels they need to stay on trackfunding levels above those authorized by the Majority.  It would reverse the cut to Aeronautics funding and restore it to its Fiscal Year 2015 level.  And it would accomplish this while still authorizing about the same total amount of money for NASA that Congress authorized for 2012.”

Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) said of the ANS, “This amendment, if adopted, would make H.R. 2039 a NASA bill that we could all be truly proud of supporting. The amendment maintains NASA as a multi-mission agency by fully funding Earth Science, Aeronautics, and Space Technology.  This amendment also funds SLS and Orion at the levels needed to keep those projects on track. NASA has always been a bipartisan endeavor.  Part of the reason for that is that NASA has always had bipartisan detractors.  By turning this process into a distinctly partisan one, the Majority is risking the delicate balance of support that has sustained NASA for the last 50 years.  I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will consider that as this process moves forward.”

Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) offered amendments to restore adequate funding levels to Aeronautics and Space Technology, respectively. Congresswoman Edwards offered an amendment to the bill to undo the funding cut to Earth Science in the Majority’s bill. Each of the amendments was defeated by party-line votes. 

You can view all of the amendments here.

Democrats on the Committee introduced a number of letters and statements into the record by preeminent science and space organizations expressing concern about the bill: the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America, the Association of American Universities, the American Astronomical Society, Universities Space Research Association, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Planetary Society.

View the letters here.

Please visit our website:  http://democrats.science.house.gov