(Washington, DC) – Today, the Subcommittee on Space held a hearing titled, “An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for Fiscal Year 2016.” Testifying before the Subcommittee was the Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration’s FY 2016 request proposes to fund NASA at a level of $18.53 billion, about a 2.8 percent increase over the FY 2015 enacted appropriation. 

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said, “I appreciate the President’s commitment to NASA as expressed in this budget request, as well as his support for R&D overall.  It is clear that he understands the importance of investing in our nation’s R&D enterprise, of which NASA is a key component. So while I may differ on some of the specific funding decisions reflected in this budget request, I think that NASA’s overall request is a good starting point for our deliberations”

Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) said in her opening statement, “I want NASA to succeed, and I want to provide it with the tools and resources needed to continue to achieve great things for this nation and our citizens…Over the past few years, we have heard from many witnesses that “stability” is a critical enabler for NASA’s progress. That is why in my statement on the House Floor for passage of the now House-passed, bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2015, I said that ‘NASA needs our constancy of purpose and direction now’ so that we might provide some stability to the agency while we work on a multi-year reauthorization, once the current bill is enacted into law. I hope to hear today about whether or not the Fiscal Year 2016 budget request provides NASA with the clear goals that maintain a constancy of purpose.”

Democratic Members of the Subcommittee discussed a number of concerns, such as the request including less funding than previously appropriated for the Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion programs and how the lower number would impact the programs; the need for a roadmap to help inform whether the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) as compared to other activities, best furthers the goal of a human mission to Mars; the Commercial Crew Program getting a significant increase without providing Congress with an independent cost estimate to help justify the level of resources requested; less funding being proposed for planetary science than has been previously appropriated by the Congress at the same time the Europa mission is being initiated and an ambitious Mars 2020 missions is  being developed; and how proposed cuts to Aeronautics Research would impact U.S. leadership in aviation and aeronautics.

Congresswoman Johnson said, “Successive Congresses and Administrations have tasked NASA with a number of critically important endeavors, yet we have lagged in providing the resources needed to carry them out. The truth is that NASA’s “buying power” has actually decreased by15 percent from Fiscal Year 2005 to Fiscal Year 2013 and is expected to continue to decline if the budgetary outlook doesn’t improve.  The hardworking women and men of NASA deserve better…NASA is a crown jewel of America’s research and development enterprise.  It advances knowledge, promotes technological innovation, projects a positive image of America throughout the world, and inspires.   Its workforce is dedicated and accomplished.  NASA deserves our support.”