Ranking Member Edwards Introduces Legislation to Authorize NASA, Cites Need to Return Agency to Path of Greatness


image Today, Ranking Member of the Space Subcommittee, Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), introduced H.R. 2616, the NASA Authorization Act of 2013. H.R. 2616 reauthorizes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for three years, beginning FY 2014 with an authorization level of $18.10 billion and increases at about 2 percent a year to a level of $18.87 billion by FY 2016. Full Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) is an original cosponsor of the bill, along with Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL); Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR); Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY); Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL); Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA); Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA); Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA); Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX); and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL).

"NASA is critical to the Nation and its economic strength. This Authorization bill is a vitally important opportunity to set the policy direction and authorize the funding needed to ensure America's global leadership in space" said Congresswoman Edwards. She added, "Unfortunately, in the past few years, NASA has been asked to do more despite being provided with fewer resources. This is intolerable as NASA is the Nation's crown jewel for spurring innovation, highly-skilled and good paying jobs, and inspiring the next generation of scientists. This fiscally responsible bill puts NASA back on track to greatness and provides flexibility in how the agency is to implement engineering and scientific details."

Important provisions in the bill include:

- Preserving NASA's purchasing power relative to FY2012 enacted levels by authorizing $18.1 billion;

- Providing a clear goal of a crewed mission to the surface of Mars and requiring a roadmap that identifies intermediate destinations and activities which contribute to enabling achievement of that goal;

- Recognizing the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew vehicle as the highest priorities for carrying out the Mars goal;

- Providing robust funding for commercial crew system development of $700 million per year;

- Maintaining U.S. commitment to International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2020 and initiating a process for determining if and how long ISS should operate beyond 2020;

- Restoring Planetary Science to $1.5 billion in annual funding following recent cuts to the program;

- Maintaining a sound Earth Science program that ensures observing systems development, and advances research, knowledge, and applied data uses that benefit society;

- Sustaining a stable aeronautics research program, consistent with FY 2012 enacted levels, that supports research priorities, strategic initiatives, and flight demonstrations;

- Investing in space technology to enable future missions, spur innovation, and contribute to economic growth and job-creation; and

- Sustaining NASA's STEM education activities and continuing agency education and outreach activities supported by scientists and engineers.

Ms. Johnson said, "NASA is a critical part of the Nation's innovation infrastructure, a driver of technological and scientific progress, a positive symbol of the United States throughout the world, and most importantly, a source of inspiration for successive generations of our young people. I strongly believe that this bill enables NASA to be such wonderful things. This bill deserves the support of all Members of Congress. If we are successful in establishing the vision and strategic direction for NASA and authorize commensurate funding levels, NASA will continue to be that shining beacon all Americans can be proud of."

Ms. Edwards added, "It is my hope that we can work together with Members on both sides of the aisle to ensure that NASA's mission is clear, expectations will inspire the public and workforce, and that the level of resources enables the agency to be successful."

Ms. Edwards also introduced H.R. 2617, the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act. The Act will ensure that the scientific data and cultural significance of the Apollo artifacts remains unharmed by future lunar landings by endowing the artifacts as a National Historic Park. It will also require the Secretary of the Interior to pursue nominating the Apollo 11 lunar landing site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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