WASHINGTON, D.C. — In anticipation of budget cuts, U.S. Senators George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today sent a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to provide the funding needed to enable NASA to fulfill its multi-faceted missions. The bipartisan letter expresses concern over proposed funding levels for NASA and the negative impact these funding levels could have on Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center.

“NASA Glenn is a vital partner in our local economy and a major force behind our nation’s science, research and space missions,” Sen. Brown said. “A robust federal investment in NASA Glenn is essential to ensuring new industry development in the region and our nation’s aeronautical competitiveness globally.”

Employing 1,850 people in northeast Ohio, NASA-Glenn contracts with an additional 1,300 service providers making it one of the region’s largest employers. The center also is a leader in research and development of the nation’s aeronautics program. The administration’s FY2007 budget request would cut NASA-Glenn funding by $189.4 million, or 21 percent, over FY2006 levels.

“I have been fighting for NASA Glenn since my days as mayor of Cleveland, and am fully committed to helping Glenn secure the funding it deserves,” Sen. Voinovich said. “In the FY2007 Budget Resolution, I co-authored an amendment which called for increased funding for NASA aeronautics back to FY2006 levels. I will continue the fight to ensure that NASA Glenn receives the funds necessary to ensure its competitiveness for years to come.” 

The letter calls for increased funding for aeronautics and science programs closer to FY2006 and FY2005 levels. It also calls for minimum funding levels to be set for both programs in order to protect non-exploratory programs from future layoffs as a result of funding diversions for the manned-space program. Finally, it calls for an increase to overall NASA funding nationwide.

“No one questions the importance of funding NASA’s programs,” Sen. Brown said. “However, significantly diluting the sustainability of part of the agency to fund another is not in the best interests of Ohio or the nation long-term.”

“NASA Glenn has proven time and again that it is a world class research facility and a major piece of NASA’s vision and future,” Sen. Voinovich said. “I will continue to work to secure the vision for NASA Glenn’s long-term growth.”

January 29,2007

The Honorable Robert Byrd,
Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations
S- 13 1 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Appropriations
S- 146A The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski,
Chairwoman, Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science
Senate Office Building, Dirksen 144
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Ranking Member, Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science
Senate Office Building, Hart 110
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators,

As you finalize a Joint Funding Resolution for the remaining Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations bills, we write to voice our support for NASA Science and Aeronautics funding, particularly for the Glenn Research Center (GRC) and other NASA centers.

The NASA Glenn Research Center is one of the largest employers in Northern Ohio, employing 1,850 people, and utilizing the services of over 1,300 contractors. Any reductions in the budget would significantly reduce the number of workers and dramatically impact Ohio’s economy.

It is imperative that NASA be given a budget that is commensurate with its awesome responsibilities and that sets the proper balance between NASA’s new Vision for Space Exploration and its traditional critical missions in Aeronautics Research & Technology Development, and Space, Earth, Life, and Microgravity Sciences. NASA programs are crucial in maintaining our country’s leadership in these fields. With increasing foreign competition, we must continue to invest in cutting edge scientific research and development and train the next generation of scientists and engineers. Government must make critical investments in NASA today in order to support America’s future aspirations, economic competitiveness, and national security.

First, we propose that the Aeronautics budget be as close as possible to the $91 3.2 million appropriated in FY06. The $724 million budget proposed for FY07 by the Administration is not only a cut of 21% from last year’s gross budget but, more importantly, represents a cut of 43% in net R&D dollars from $788 million in FY04 to $452 million in the President’s proposed FY07 budget.

Second, we propose that the Science budget be set as close as possible to the actual FY05 Science expenditures of $5,824 million. Although the exact reduction that would be experienced by the Administration’s proposed $5,330 million for Science in FY07 is difficult to quantify because NASA is constantly changing what it defines as Science, it is nonetheless clear that the cumulative cuts proposed by the Administration would seriously harm NASA’s Science programs.

Third, with the Administrator publicly vowing to fund manned space activities in FY07 by shifting funds from non-Exploration programs and with management once again talking about laying offs, it is imperative 1) that Appropriators cordon off the Science and Aeronautics budgets within independent accounts by blocking transfer authority between major accounts to preserve NASA’s programmatic integrity and balance, and 2) that the current moratorium on layoffs be extended through FY07 to preserve NASA’s intellectual capabilities through the current fiscal turmoil.

We emphasize that all three above proposals can be met within the enacted FY06 baseline and can be implemented within a strict continuing resolution. However, given NASA’s rapidly growing responsibilities, we also believe that the Agency deserves serious consideration of a small budget increase. NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration is beginning to make real progress. We therefore ask that Appropriators provide a modest increase in NASA’s overall budget to partially offset inflation and to allow continued, albeit limited, progress in its Exploration programs, prior to a complete assessment within the FY08 Appropriations process.

While we understand that NASA is transitioning to a new theme in its “Vision for Space Exploration,” it is critical that the agency be allowed to make this transition smoothly. In this light, we put forth the following specific recommendations:

1. Set reasonable minimum Science and Aeronautics budgets:

  • Provide at least $5,430 million in a separate Science account.
  • Provide at least $821 million in a separate Aeronautics account.

2. Limit executive transfer authority:

  • Reassert legislative authority to set the top-line for each major account.
  • Prevent diversion of Science or Aeronautics funds to meet Exploration shortfalls.

3. Preserve NASA’s core intellectual capabilities:

  • Reexamine the planning or implementation of any Reduction-In-Force.

4. Provide modest additional funding above the FY06 baseline:

  • Set NASA’s budget no lower than the $16,457 million in the initial FY06 Appropriations.
  • Provide small FY07 plus-up for Exploration leading to an FY08 appropriation decision point.

We ask that you please strongly consider these proposals. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


George Voinovich, United States Senator
Sherrod Brown, United States Senator