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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2578 (NASA Excerpts)

Status Report From: Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2015

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 2578  Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Appropriations Act, 2016

(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

Full document 

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2578, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes. The bill drastically underfunds critical investments in research and development that are key to advancing U.S. economic competitiveness and reducing taxpayer costs for securing essential weather satellite data and conducting an effective 2020 census. It also severely underfunds State and local criminal justice assistance that helps ensure the safety and well-being of individuals and communities, and underfunds programs that would increase the use of body-worn cameras by law enforcement, expand training, provide much-needed police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice facilitates community and local law enforcement engagement. It also cuts support for NASA's Commercial Crew Program that will help end our reliance on Russia for transporting astronauts, critical space technology investments that will help pave the path to reaching Mars, and earth science research that is helping us understand how our climate is changing and how to respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events. Furthermore, the legislation includes highly objectionable provisions, including provisions that continue unwarranted restrictions regarding detainees held at Guantanamo Bay that will undermine our national security, severely inhibit efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and put in place non-germane foreign policy restrictions related to Cuba. If the President were presented with H.R. 2578, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

Enacting H.R. 2578 and adhering to the congressional Republican budget's overall spending limits for fiscal year (FY) 2016 would hurt our economy and shortchange investments in middleclass priorities. Sequestration was never intended to take effect: rather, it was supposed to threaten such drastic cuts to both defense and non-defense funding that policymakers would be motivated to come to the table and reduce the deficit through smart, balanced reforms. The Republican framework would bring base discretionary funding for both non-defense and defense for FY 2016 to the lowest real levels in a decade. Compared to the President's Budget, the cuts would result in tens of thousands of the Nation's most vulnerable children losing access to Head Start, more than two million fewer workers receiving job training and employment services, and thousands fewer scientific and medical research awards and grants, along with other impacts that would hurt the economy, the middle class, and Americans working hard to reach the middle class.

Sequestration funding levels would also put our national security at unnecessary risk, not only through pressures on defense spending, but also through pressures on State, USAID, Homeland Security, and other non-defense programs that help keep us safe. More broadly, the strength of our economy and the security of our Nation are linked. That is why the President has been clear that he is not willing to lock in sequestration going forward, nor will he accept fixes to defense without also fixing non-defense.

The President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto H.R. 2578 and any other legislation that implements the current Republican budget framework, which blocks the investments needed for our economy to compete in the future. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to reverse sequestration for defense and non-defense priorities and offset the cost with commonsense spending and tax expenditure cuts, as Members of Congress from both parties have urged.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Commercial Crew Program. The Administration is disappointed that the Committee underfunded NASA's Commercial Crew program by $243 million. This would delay the date for launching U.S. astronauts to the space station with U.S. rockets and force a continued reliance on Russian capabilities, which currently require payments to Russia of approximately $500 million per year.

Space Technology. The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request for NASA Space Technology. Compared to the request, the bill reduces funding for these investments by $100 million, or 14 percent, delaying development of a cutting-edge laser communication system; advanced, high power solar electric propulsion; and other space technology demonstrations, slowing progress on the journey to Mars, and impacting the international competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space industry.

Earth Science Missions. The Administration opposes the bill's reductions of Earth Science by more than $200 million, jeopardizing missions that are helping us respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events and understand how the climate is changing. The bill also eliminates the launch of a key instrument used by western States to manage water supplies while at the same time adding $500 million above the requested level for the Space Launch System rocket.

Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). The Administration urges the Congress to fully fund the FY 2016 Budget request for NASA and the National Science Foundation to implement the DATA Act. This funding will support the agencies' efforts to provide more transparent Federal spending data, such as updating information technology systems, changing business processes, and employing a uniform procurement instrument identifier.

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