Subcommittee Democrats Discuss Ways to Restore Stability and Direction to NASA


(Washington, DC) - Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Space held a hearing to discuss ways to restore stability and direction to NASA. As part of that discussion, Members heard testimony about H.R. 823, the Space Leadership Preservation Act of 2013. This is the first hearing to inform the Committee as it begins to prepare for NASA reauthorization.

According to the bill's sponsors, the purpose of the Space Leadership Preservation Act of 2013 is to depoliticize and provide stability to NASA. It would make a number of changes to how NASA is run, such as the establishment of a board of directors that would be responsible for developing a budget proposal that would be delivered to the White House and Congress by November 15 of each year, create a fixed six-year term for the NASA administrator, and allow for long-term contracting.

Ranking Member Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) said of the proposals, "While today we consider legislation that seeks to stabilize NASA's direction, the sad truth is, we in the Congress have and are continuing to contribute to the agency's funding instability and a mismatch of resources with expectations. Year after year, NASA has had to redirect scarce resources and time to replan programs and projects, not because of instability at the top of the agency, but because of the uncertainties caused by flat or decreased funding for the agency, continuing resolutions, and, now the threat of sequestration."

She continued, "If we expect NASA to do great things, as I know its employees can because they do so each and every day, then let's give it the resources it needs and when it needs them. NASA's future and its value both to our Nation and to the next generation are where I hope to focus this subcommittee's attention as we go forward in the 113th Congress."

After the hearing, Ms. Edwards said that the comment from Mr. Tom Young, one of the witnesses, on the need to be bold and decisive regarding a goal resonated with her. She said, "I think a grand challenge and clear goal, such as a human mission to Mars, could be precisely what NASA needs to provide a strategic direction to its human spaceflight and exploration program. It can inspire all of us, bringing out the best in us as a Nation."

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