21 May 2007

Senate Amendment to Increase NASA Funding

AAS Action Alert 2007-01

[Mailed from aas.org 21 May 2007]

Senate Amendment to Increase NASA Funding

L. Jeremy Richardson
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
richardsonlj at aas.org


An amendment introduced in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee would provide additional funds to NASA over the President's FY 2008 Budget Request. All U.S. members of the AAS are asked to make three calls today to subcommittee members and ask them to support the amendment.


Appropriations bills for all government agencies are currently making their way through both the House and Senate. NASA and NSF are both funded under the so-called CJS (Commerce-Justice-Science) appropriations bills. On the Senate side, the CJS Subcommittee of the full Appropriations Committee will meet this week to "markup" the CJS appropriations bill. At that time, an amendment will be offered to increase NASA's budget.

Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Richard Shelby (R-AL) plan to offer an amendment that would add an extra $1 billion for NASA in FY 2008. Essentially the same as last year's Mikulski-Hutchison amendment, it would provide emergency funds to reimburse the agency for the unexpected costs of returning the Space Shuttle to flight after the Columbia disaster. This has cost the agency an estimated $2.3 billion through FY 2006 and is expected to cost an additional $0.5 billion over the current fiscal year.

In addition to this setback, NASA is in the midst of implementing the Vision for Space Exploration, developing replacement vehicles for the Space Shuttle, and completing the construction of the International Space Station. With no new funding, these activities and the Columbia disaster have forced the agency to cut back on a number of key activities that are not directly related to the Vision, including Space Sciences, Earth Sciences, Aeronautics, and Life and Microgravity Sciences.

The Mikulski-Hutchison-Shelby amendment would direct the agency to restore some of these cuts. Although it would not specify which programs would receive the additional funds, it would direct the Administrator to give priority to programs that were cut to pay for return to flight.


You are asked to place calls to three legislators (of your choice) on the CJS Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, listed below. If you happen to be a constituent of any of these Senators, make one of your calls to that Senator and be sure to note that you are a constituent when you call.

When you call, be polite and brief. Identify yourself and simply request that the Senator support the Mikulski-Hutchison-Shelby amendment that would increase the NASA budget. You might say something like, "Hello, my name is John Q. Taxpayer from Podunk University. I'm calling to ask Senator Quimby to support the Mikulski-Hutchison-Shelby amendment, which would increase NASA's budget for FY 2008. These additional funds would help restore cuts in other vital NASA programs to pay for the agency's recovery from the Columbia disaster."

Total time required: 5 minutes, max.

Members of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Senate Appropriations Committee (All phone numbers are 202/224-xxxx)

Senator Barbara Mikulski (Chairman) (MD), -4654
Senator Daniel Inouye (HI), -3934
Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), -4242
Senator Herb Kohl (WI), -5653
Senator Tom Harkin (IA), -3254
Senator Byron Dorgan (ND), -2551
Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), -3841
Senator Jack Reed (RI), -4642
Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ), -3224

Senator Richard Shelby (Ranking Member) (AL), -5744
Senator Judd Gregg (NH), -3324
Senator Ted Stevens (AK), -3004
Senator Pete Domenici (NM), -6621
Senator Mitch McConnell (KY), -2541
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), -5922
Senator Sam Brownback (KS), -6521
Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), -4944

If you want to do more after making your three calls, contact your own Senators' offices and request that they support the amendment when the bill reaches the Senate floor. You can find your Senators' contact information at http://www.senate.gov.

Thanks for your help.


Mailed to US members from aas.org 25 June 2007