Conflicting Signals on Space Station/SSC; New White House E-Mail System

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Publication date: 
16 February 1993
Number: 
19

SPACE STATION: FULL FUNDING OR "THE 60 PERCENT SOLUTION"?:  Last
Friday, press reports indicated that NASA Administrator Daniel S.
Goldin and White House officials had reached agreement on a budget
request of $1.35 billion for Space Station Freedom for fiscal year
1994.  New reports tell just the opposite story, indicating that
Vice President Al Gore has told lawmakers the Clinton
Administration will seek $2.25 billion for the project.

Although the budget request may not be known until tomorrow night's
State of the Union Address (and possibly not until next month), it
does seem certain that the administration will continue the
project.  White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos said Clinton
"wants to do what [he] can to stop any cost overruns and achieve
the best management possible, but he will not cancel the space
station." 

Last year, the Bush Administration requested $2.25 billion for the
station, and received $2.1 billion.  An unsuccessful move was made
in the House to eliminate funding (181 against the station - 237
for.)  The Senate also rejected (63-34) an amendment to terminate
funding. 

Goldin refused to comment on last Friday's report, but did state
"NASA will not deliver another broken promise to the American
people.  I am holding the space station management team accountable
for delivering this program on time and within the prescribed
budget.  We will leave no stone unturned and no viable option will
go unconsidered."  On Friday, John Aaron, who headed the project
effort managed by Johnson Space Center, was asked to resign.

Trying to predict how Congress will react to the $2.25 billion
request - if this latest report turns out to be correct - is
difficult.  There are 110 new Representatives whose support for the
space station is unknown.  Added to this is the fact that a
Republican is no longer in the White House, freeing House
Republicans from having to vote on the basis of loyalty to the
president.  President Clinton, unlike his predecessor, is not
expected to use precious political capital to sway Members of
Congress to his side on the space station.  Judging from opposition
that is already lining-up to the president's economic plan, he will
be saving his capital for other objectives. 

    
SUPERCONDUCTING SUPER COLLIDER:  There is still no definitive word
on what funding level the Clinton Administration will propose.
Reports indicate that Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen acted to
protect the SSC against large scale budget cuts or termination
which had been suggested by OMB Director Leon Panetta.  One
unconfirmed figure puts the SSC request in the neighborhood of $600
million.

Some observers feel the SSC is more vulnerable because of last
year's initial House vote of 159-254 to kill the project.  The
House later reversed itself, with the final appropriation being
$517 million.  Outgoing DOE Secretary James Watkins, in a letter
sent to House science committee chairman George Brown
(D-California), said "Maintaining this schedule requires total
funding of $1,211.1 million in FY 1994."  New Energy Secretary
Hazel R. O'Leary told reporters "I know all the reasons why that is
a good project, but I'm not feeling passionately about it."

Although Secretary O'Leary's position on the SSC might not be as
strong as some would prefer, House science committee chairman
George Brown (D-California) has left no doubt about his sentiments.

Speaking at the AAAS meeting, Brown linked the fate of the SSC and
space station together.  Referring to an exchange of letters with
the White House, Brown said, "...I've been sending messages to the
White House that you can't protect one without the other.  Both of
these projects will go down if you try to eliminate just one."

WHITE HOUSE E-MAIL SYSTEM:  A reader informs us that the White
House can now be reached through E-Mail at the following addresses:
75300.3115 [at] Compuserve.com. or CLINTON PZ on America Online.
Replies are made by U.S. mail; include your mailing address for a
reply.

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