Washington, DC…U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-FL) today excoriated the Democratic leadership for failing to allow a vote on an amendment he proposed that would have kept Congress from raiding NASA’s budget to fund a 40% increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“It’s increasingly clear that Democratic leaders have our manned space program in their crosshairs,” said Weldon. Weldon noted that at the hearing to introduce his proposal Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), who sits on the powerful Rules Committee, said he opposed the amendment because he was ‘not convinced’ of the need for human space exploration.

Weldon originally introduced the amendment after the Democrats proposed an astounding 40% percent ($2 billion) funding increase for NSF this year alone. The proposed increase was made possible earlier this year when Democrats cut a half-a-billion dollars from NASA funding. NASA and NSF are funded through the same budget account and compete for the same pot of money.

“Democrats are on a glide path to cripple our manned Space program. It’s time the space community saw this for what it is: an assault on our commitment to build the Shuttle replacement, return to the moon, and maintain our strategic advantage in space. It’s also an assault on the civilian workers and contractors who are about to have their lives disrupted because Democrats can’t divert NASA funding fast enough to their other priorities.”

Weldon expressed dismay at two Florida Democrats who cast deciding votes in the Rules Committee against the Weldon amendment. “NASA has been a vital component to the entire state of Florida. These two members should have supported this measure. I think they let our state down,” said Weldon.

According to Weldon, it’s imperative that lawmakers who believe human space flight is important and who come from states with a strong NASA presence — both Democrats and Republicans — put their political capital on the line to save NASA funding from the new leadership¹s chopping block.

Earlier this month, Weldon joined a bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers in calling for a summit with the Bush Administration to discuss the space program¹s funding shortages. Ironically, seven of the lawmakers who signed that letter had just voted for half-a-billion in cuts to NASA’s budget.