NASA Praised by Senate VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee

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Publication date: 
6 April 1995
Number: 
50

"Perhaps no agency, more than NASA, has confronted the reality of
the austere budget environment.  Over the last few years, NASA has
transformed itself from an agency that had assumed large annual
budget increases, to one that now assumes a flat to negative
funding horizon.  I applaud the agency for getting out front of
this dilemma..."   
    -- Sen. Christopher Bond

With these words of praise, chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) of the
Senate VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee opened an April 5 hearing
on NASA's FY 1996 budget request.  Bond is a "strong supporter for
NASA's efforts," as were the other subcommittee members present:
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Robert Bennett
(R-UT).

NASA is requesting $14.26 billion, a decrease of $203.7 million
from current-year spending.  It has been asked by the
Administration to take a cut of $5 billion from its expected budget
profile over the next five years.  Daniel Goldin, the agency's
administrator, reported that five separate reviews had taken or
were taking place on different aspects of the space agency's
activities.  By mid-May, Goldin expects to have an initial
assessment on whether or not the agency could achieve the five-year
reduction through cuts in infrastructure alone.  If not, he
promised to come back to the subcommittee with NASA's priorities
for program cuts.  Bond concurred with Mikulski when she urged that
NASA's analysis be "done in time to give guidance to the House and,
certainly, to the Senate."  If the analyses were not available in
time to mark up the subcommittee's bill, she warned, "we will move
without them."

Shelby raised concerns about how NASA's field centers would fare
under the downsizing, especially Marshall Space Flight Center in
his home state.  Goldin was "cautiously optimistic" about
preserving the primary centers, although he was doubtful that they
could all be cut evenly.  "Survival of a center is not the issue,"
he declared.  It is "survival of the American economy."

Mikulski described NASA as part of the nation's effort to "create
wealth and jobs,"
rather than just redistribute them.  Jobs, she said, are "what
people are looking for from NASA."  She then questioned the
Administration's policy of "fencing off" the space station budget
from any of the reductions.  Goldin praised having a stable station
budget as "the single biggest, most important characteristic" in
the program's progress, adding that "to change the funding at this
point could be its demise."  Mikulski cautioned that singling it
out "makes it a very clear target."  Goldin vowed, "Somehow, some
way, no matter what happens...this station is going to be built."

Bond made no mention of decreasing the NASA budget further; he said
the agency had "given at the office," and made greater reductions
than he would have asked for.  "We appreciate what you've done," he
assured Goldin.

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