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Bill also includes $17.5 billion for NASA, Maryland projects
On the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik and the dawn of the Space Age, Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today announced she has introduced an amendment to the 2008 CJS spending bill to provide $1 billion in federal funding to pay back the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the costs of returning the Space Shuttle to flight. The funding will also reimburse critical science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut to pay for repairs. This comes as Senator Mikulski met Wednesday with the NASA shuttle mission STS-118 Endeavour astronauts who returned in August 2007 from their 12-day mission. Photos from the event are available at: http://www.mikulski.senate.gov/mikulski-astronauts.html .
"NASA was hit with a terrible tragedy with the loss of Columbia. The agency was never fully reimbursed and was forced to make dramatic cuts to other programs," said Senator Mikulski. "I am committed to restoring this agency's budget to ensure the continued safety of our astronauts, and to supporting the critical programs that are the hallmarks of their success."
In 1987, Congress allocated $2.7 billion in the aftermath of the Challenger tragedy to pay for a replacement shuttle. In the aftermath of the Columbia tragedy, however, NASA was not given any additional funding to repair the remaining shuttles. The amendment will pay back the costs of returning the Shuttle to flight and restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight. The $1 billion will be declared as an emergency under the terms of the budget resolution and is a one-time allocation.
This is Senator Mikulski's second attempt at this amendment, which was included in the 2007 CJS spending bill, but the bill was never brought up for a vote in the 109th Congress. Joining Senator Mikulski in sponsoring the amendment are CJS Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Science and Space Subcommittee on the Senate Commerce Committee Senator Bill Nelson, Ranking Member of the Science and Space Subcommittee on the Senate Commerce Committee Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La), Senator Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), Senator Hillary R. Clinton (D-N.Y.), Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Senator David Vitter (R-La.).
This year's spending bill provides almost $17.5 billion for NASA, which is $150 million above the President's budget request.
"There is simply too much pressure on NASA's budget - now and in the future," said Senator Mikulski. "The only way to reduce the pressure on the budget, and maintain a balanced space program, is to increase our federal commitment to NASA and our national space program."
The bill fully funds the President's budget request for Space Shuttle operations ($4 billion) and Space Station operations ($2.2 billion). The bill also provides $3.9 billion for development of the next generation Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).
In addition, the bill provides $5.66 billion for NASA's science programs. Earth science is funded at $1.6 billion and includes $25 million for studies to begin implementing the recently released National Research Council's Decadal Survey, "Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nations," which called for 14 high-priority NASA earth science missions. The bill provides full funding for the continued development of the James Webb Space Telescope, and for the Hubble Servicing Mission scheduled for September 2008. The bill also includes $554 million for aeronautics research.
Senator Mikulski also secured $7.5 million for space and exploration projects in Maryland:
# $3 million for the Maryland Institute for Dextrous Robotics at the University of Maryland at College Park, which is devoted to creating a new generation of robots and robotic technology for space exploration.
# $2 million for the Institute for Nano-Bio Technology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, which researches and applies nanotechnology to biomedicine and medical devices. Future space exploration will require revolutionary new medical technology for diagnosing and treating diseases.
# $2 million for the University of Maryland Baltimore County for their environmental remote sensing program.
# $250,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Institute for Space Technology (MIST) in Pocomoke City for Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAV) testing and certification.
# $250,000 for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), at the Wallops Flight Facility on Maryland's Eastern Shore, for infrastructure improvements to launch facilities.
A final vote on the spending bill is expected today or tomorrow. In the next step of the legislative process, the House and Senate will meet in Conference Committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill. The Conference report will then be voted on by both Houses of Congress. Once passed by the House and Senate, the spending bill will go to the President for his signature.
About US Senator Mikulski
A leader in the Senate, Mikulski is the Dean of the Women – serving as a mentor to other women Senators when they first take office. As the dean, she builds coalitions – proving that the Senate women are not solo acts, but work together to get things done.
Mikulski’s experiences as a social worker and activist provided valuable lessons that she draws on as a United States Senator. She believes her constituents have a right to know, a right to be heard and a right to be represented. She listens to her constituents and makes the personal, political.
For more information, please click here
The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
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